In Vedanta, an ancient Indian philosophical and spiritual tradition, consciousness is a central concept, and it is understood to have various levels or types. These types of consciousness are often described as layers or dimensions of the self. Here are some of the key types of consciousness from the Vedic perspective:
Jagrat (Wakeful Consciousness): This is the ordinary waking state of consciousness that most people experience in their everyday lives. In this state, individuals are aware of the external world through their senses, and their thoughts and perceptions are directed outward.
Swapna (Dream Consciousness): Swapna refers to the dream state of consciousness that occurs during sleep. In this state, the mind creates its own internal reality, and individuals experience dreams and imagery that can be vivid and imaginative.
Sushupti (Deep Sleep Consciousness): Sushupti is the state of deep sleep where there is a complete absence of dreams and conscious thought. It is often described as a state of pure potentiality and inner silence.
Sakshi (Witness Consciousness): This is the aspect of consciousness that observes the other states. It is the unchanging witness that remains constant throughout all experiences and states of consciousness. Sakshi is often associated with the true self (Atman) and is considered eternal and unchanging.
Chitta (Subconscious Mind): Chitta is the storehouse of impressions, memories, and past experiences. It influences thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in the waking and dream states. It is an important aspect of the mind that can be purified and transformed through spiritual practices.
Turiya (Transcendental Consciousness): Turiya is considered the highest state of consciousness in Vedanta. It transcends the other three states (jagrat, swapna, and sushupti). It is often described as a state of pure awareness, where the individual recognizes their unity with the universal consciousness (Brahman). Turiya is characterized by profound inner peace, bliss, and a sense of oneness.
Turiyatita (Beyond Transcendental Consciousness): Some Vedantic teachings propose a fifth state, Turiyatita, which is said to be beyond Turiya. It represents the ultimate realization of the self as one with the absolute reality, beyond all duality and distinctions.
These states of consciousness are central to Vedanta's exploration of the self and the nature of reality. The goal of spiritual practice in Vedanta is to transcend the limitations of ordinary waking consciousness and realize the higher states of consciousness, ultimately recognizing one's unity with the ultimate reality (Brahman).