Seven stages of the
development of wisdom are described in the Varaha Upanishad. While the
Sanskrit terms may not be familiar to you, the general outline of the
process is easily seen, and this is quite useful to understand in a
general way. It shows the way in which there is an unfolding process of
stages in enlightenment. Note that the first aspect of realization of
the Self is in stage four, after which that stage is stabilized and
expanded. In practical terms, this means the sadhaka (seeker) first
seeks and attains a glimpse of Self-Realization, and only later becomes
firmly implanted in that Realization. For many people this can bring
comfort, as the path of Self-Realization can otherwise seem almost
impossible. Knowing that the direct experience is a step along the way
can make it seen as much more accessible. Also note that the seven
stages are correlated to the stages of Om Mantra (See article on
Varaha Upanishad, Chapter IV:
On another occasion Nidagha asked Lord Ribhu to enlighten him as to the characteristics of Jivanmukti. To which Ribhu replied in the affirmative and said the following: “In the seven Bhumikas (or stages of development of wisdom) there are four kinds of Jivanmuktas. Of these the first stage is Subhechcha (good desire); the second is Vicharana (inquiry); the third is Tanumanasi (or pertaining to the thinned mind); the fourth is Sattvapatti (the attainment of Sattva); the fifth is Asamsakti (non-attachment); the sixth is the Padartha-Bhavana (analysis of objects) and the seventh is the Turya (fourth or final stage).
The Bhumika which is of the form of Pranava (Om) is formed of (or is divided into) Akara – ‘A’, Ukara – ‘U’, Makara - ‘M’ and Ardha-Matra. Akara and others are of four kinds on account of the difference of Sthula (gross) Sukshma (subtle), Bija (seed or causal) and Sakshi (witness). Their Avasthas are four: waking, dreaming, dreamless sleeping and Turya (fourth). He who is in (or the entity that identifies itself with) the waking state in the gross Amsa (essence or part) of Akara is named Vishva; in the subtle essence, he is termed Taijasa; in the Bija essence, he is termed Prajna; and in the Sakshi essence, he is termed Turya.
He who is in the dreaming state (or the entity which identifies itself with the dreaming state) in the gross essence of Ukara is Vishva; in the subtle essence, he is termed Taijasa; in the Bija essence, is termed Prajna; and in the Sakshi essence, he is termed Turya.
He who is in the Sushupti state in the gross essence of Makara is termed Vishva; in the subtle essence, Taijasa; in the Bija essence, he is termed Prajna; and in the Sakshi essence, he is termed Turya. He who is in Turya State in the gross essence of Ardha-Matra is termed Turya-Vishva. In the subtle, he is termed Taijasa; in the Bija essence, he is termed Prajna; and in the Sakshi essence, he is termed Turya-Turya.
The Turya essence of Akara is (or embraces) the first, second and third (Bhumikas or stages of the seven). The Turya essence of Ukara embraces the fourth Bhumika. The Turya essence of Makara embraces the fifth Bhumika. The Turya essence of Ardha-Matra is the sixth stage. Beyond this, is the seventh stage.
One who functions in the (first) three Bhumikas is called Mumukshu; one who functions in the fourth Bhumika is called a Brahmavit; one who functions in the fifth Bhumika is called a Brahmavidvara; one who functions in the sixth Bhumika is called a Brahmavidvariya; and one in the seventh Bhumika is called a Brahmavidvarishtha. With reference to this, there are Slokas. They are:
1. Subhechcha is said to be the first Jnana-Bhumi (or stage of wisdom); Vicharana, the second; Tanumanasi, the third;
2. Sattvapatti, the fourth; then come Asamsakti as the fifth, Padartha-Bhavana as the sixth and Turya as the seventh.
3. The desire that arise in one through sheer Vairagya (after resolving) ‘Shall I be ignorant? I will be seen by the Shastras and the wise’ (or ‘I will study the books and be with the wise’) – is termed by the wise as Subhechcha [first stage].
4. The association with the wise and Shastras and the following of the right path preceding the practice of indifference is termed Vicharana [second stage].
5. That stage wherein the hankering after sensual objects is thinned through the first and second stages is said to be Tanumanasi [third stage].
6. That stage wherein having become indifferent to all sensual objects through the exercise in the (above) three stages, the purified Chitta rests on Atman which is of the nature of Sat is called Sattvapatti [fourth stage].
7. The light (or manifestation) of Sattva-Guna that is firmly rooted (in one) without any desire for the fruits of actions through the practice in the above four stages is termed Asamsakti [fifth stage].
8-9. That stage wherein through the practice in the (above) five stages one, having found delight in Atman, has no conception of the internals or externals (though before him) and engages in actions only when impelled to do so by others is termed Padartha-Bhavana, the sixth stage.
10. The stage wherein after exceedingly long practice in the (above) six stages one is (immovably) fixed in the contemplation of Atman alone without the difference (of the universe) is the seventh stage called Turya.
11. The three stages beginning with Subhechcha are said to be attained with (or amidst) differences and non-differences. (Because) the universe one sees in the waking state he thinks to be really existent.
12. When the mind is firmly fixed on the non-dual One and the conception of duality is put down, then he sees this universe as a dream through his union with the fourth stage.
13. As the autumnal cloud being dispersed vanishes, so this universe perishes. O Nidagha, be convinced that such a person has only Sattva remaining.
14. Then having ascended the fifth stage called Sushuptipada (dreamless sleeping seat), he remains simply in the non-dual state, being freed from all the various differences.
15-16(a). Having always introvision though ever participating in external actions, those that are engaged in the practice of this (sixth stage) are seen like one sleeping when fatigued (viz., being freed from all affinities).
16(b). (Lastly) the seventh stage which is the ancient and which is called Gudhasupti is generally attained.
17. Then one remains in that secondless state without fear and with his consciousness almost annihilated where there is neither Sat nor Asat, neither self nor not-self.
18. Like an empty pot in the Akasa, there is void both within and without; like a filled vessel in the midst of an ocean, he is full both within and without.
19. Do not become either the knower or the known. May you become the Reality which remains after all thoughts are given up.
20. Having discarded (all the distinctions of) the seer, the sight and the seen with their affinities, meditate solely upon Atman which shines as the supreme Light.
21. He is said to be a Jivanmukta (emancipated person) in whom, though participating in the material concerns of the world, the universe is not seen to exist like the invisible Akasa.
22. He is said to be a Jivanmukta, the light of whose mind never sets or rises in misery or happiness and who does not seek to change what happens to him (viz., either to diminish his misery or increase his happiness).
23. He is said to be a Jivanmukta who though in his Sushupti is awake and to whom the waking state is unknown and whose wisdom is free from the affinities (of objects).
24. He is said to be a Jivanmukta whose heart is pure like Akasa, though acting (as it) in consonance to love, hatred, fear and others.
25. He is said to be a Jivanmukta who has not the conception of his being the actor and whose Buddhi is not attached to material objects, whether he performs actions or not.
26. He is said to be a Jivanmukta, of whom people are not afraid, who is not afraid of people and who has given up joy, anger and fear.
27. He is said to be a Jivanmukta, who though participating in all the illusory objects, is cool amidst them and is a full Atman, (being) as if they belonged to others.
28. O Muni, he is said to be a Jivanmukta, who having eradicated all the desires of his Chitta, is (fully) content with me who am the Atman of all.
29. He is said to be a Jivanmukta, who rests with an unshaken mind in that all pure abode which is Chinmatra and free from all the modifications of Chitta.
30. He is said to be a Jivanmukta in whose Chitta do not dawn (the distinctions of) the universe, I, he, thou and others that are visible and unreal.
31. Through the path of the Guru and Shastras, enter soon sat – the Brahman that is immutable, great, full and without objects – and be firmly seated there.
32. Shiva alone is Guru; Shiva alone is Vedas; Shiva alone is Lord; Shiva alone is I; Shiva alone is all. There is none other than Shiva.
33. The undaunted Brahmana having known Him (Shiva) should attain wisdom. One need not utter many words as they but injure the organ of speech.
34. (The Rishi) Suka is a Mukta (emancipated person). (The Rishi) Vamadeva is a Mukta. There are no others (who have attained emancipation) than through these (viz., the two paths of these two Rishis). Those brave men who follow the path of Suka in this world become Sadyo-Muktas (viz., emancipated) immediately after (the body wear away);
35. While those who always follow the path of Vamadeva (i.e., Vedanta) in this world are subject again and again to rebirths and attain Krama (gradual) emancipation, through Yoga, Sankhya and Karmas associated with Sattva (Guna).
36. Thus there are two paths laid down by the Lord of Devas (viz.,) the Suka and Vamadeva paths. The Suka path is called the bird’s path; while the Vamadeva path is called the ant’s path.
37-38. Those persons that have cognised the true nature of their Atman through the mandatory and prohibitory injunctions (of the Vedas), the inquiry into (the true meaning of) Maha-Vakyas (the sacred sentences of the Vedas), the Samadhi of Sankhya Yoga or Asamprajnata Samadhi and that have thereby purified themselves, attain the supreme seat through the Suka path.
39-40. Having, through Hatha-Yoga practice with the pain caused by Yama, postures, etc., become liable to the ever recurring obstacles caused by Anima and other (Siddhis) and having not obtained good results, one is born again in a great family and practises Yoga through his previous (Karmic) affinities.
41. Then through the practice of Yoga during many lives, he attains salvation (viz.,) the supreme seat of Vishnu through the Vamadeva path.
42. Thus there are two paths that lead to the attainment of Brahman and that are beneficent. The one confers instantaneous salvation and the other confers gradual salvation. To one that sees (all) as the one (Brahman), where is delusion? Where is sorrow?
43. Those that are under the eyes of those whose Buddhi is solely occupied with the truth (of Brahman) that is the end of all experience are released from all heinous sins.
44. All beings inhabiting heaven and earth that fall under the vision of Brahmavits are at once emancipated from the sins committed during many Crores of births.”
Thus ends the fourth
Chapter of Varaha Upanishad.