The first chapter of Mandukya Upanishad discusses Turiya
by means of the Vedic symbol AUM. The restless mind cannot
think of the transcendental Reality without the help of a
concrete symbol. Thinking is possible only through symbols.
The student is asked to imagine four parts in Brahman, or
Cosmic Reality. They are called four quarters. The first
three- gross, subtle and causal- constitute the phenomenal
world. The fourth, so called only in relation to the three
just mentioned, is transcendental, being beyond time, space
and causality. It is Turiya, or the unconditioned


Brahman and Atman (Self) are identical. The gross aspect
of Brahman has its counterpart in the waking state (Visva)
of Atman, when the external world is perceived by means of
the sense-organs; the subtle aspect, in the dream state
(Taijasa), when the internal world, created by waking
experiences, is perceived; and the causal aspect, in deep
sleep or dreamless sleep (Prajna), characterised by bliss
and the cessation of mental activity. The transcendental
aspect of Atman, or Pure Consciousness, which is its true
nature, is the same as Turiya.


Like Brahman, AUM also has four parts, called letters.
The first three are A, U, and M, corresponding to the first
three quarters of Brahman and Atman. In addition to these
there is an undifferentiated sound of AUM, which comes after
the first three letters are pronounced. Devoid of all
characteristics, it is not any particular sound, but the
substratum of all sounds. It is the same as the
unconditioned Brahman, or Turiya. Turiya is here
figuratively called a quarter. In reality it does not denote
any part. It is Brahman Itself, which does not admit of any
differentiation. The knowledge of the fourth quarter is
realised by merging in it the previous three. That is to
say, the waking state is merged in the dream state, the
dream state in dreamless sleep, and finally, dreamless sleep
in Turiya, or Pure Consciousness. Thus through meditation on
AUM one can realise Brahman both in its cosmic and in its
acosmic aspect.


Mandukya Upanishad


[Note: “Who is conscious of external objects”, : The
self in the waking state is aware of objects other than
itself. Consciousness appears to be related to outer
objects. This is due to Avidya, or ignorance. From the
standpoint of Reality, Brahman or Atman, is Pure
Consciousness. Consciousness is non-dual and nothing exists
outside it. The duality of ego and non-ego, subject and
object, appears in the Cosmic Mind due to avidya. Material
objects are illusory in nature and have no independent


[The following comments refer to the next verse No.7.
The three states superimposed on Brahman through avidya
(ignorance) have already been explained. Within them the
causal law operates. Now will be explained the fourth state,
known as Turiya, which is free from causality, is of the
very nature of Pure Consciousness, and is the Supreme
Reality. This will be done through the negation of the three
states.] :


Turiya is not that which is conscious of the inner
(subjective) world, nor that which is conscious of the outer
(objective) world, nor that which is conscious of both, nor
that which is a mass of consciousness. It is not simple
consciousness nor is It unconsciousness. It is unperceived,
unrelated, incomprehensible, uninferable, unthinkable, and
indescribable. The essence of the Consciousness manifesting
as the self (in the three states), It (Turiya) is the
cessation of all phenomena; It is all peace, all bliss, and
non-dual. This is what is known as the Fourth (Turiya). This
is Atman (Self), and this has to be realised.