The human, physical or gross body is composed of certain compounds, of which the chief are water, gelatine, fat, phosphate of lime, albumen and febrine. (These substances are composed of simpler non-metallic and metallic elements, of which the chief are oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus.) And, this gross body that thrives on food has four subtle aspects, — Pranamayam, Manomayam, Vignanamayam and Anandamayam. Those who seek Gnana have to go through the four stages of Vignanar, Yegnanar, Agnanar and Meignanar, when they take on the corresponding forms needed for experiencing Anava, Maya, Karma and Siva.
[Scientific experiments have re-established the ancient hypothesis of a single Primordial Substance to which the various forms of matter may be reduced, with the resultant of the possible transmutation of one element into another; since each is but one of the plural manifestations of the same underlying unity. Research has also shown that this original substance cannot be scientific “matter” —that is, that which has mass, weight and inertia. Matter has been dematerialised and reduced to something which differs profoundly from “matter” as known by the senses. This ultimate substance is stated to be Ether in a state of motion. The scientific hypothesis would appear to be as follows: The ultimate and simplest physical factor from which the universe has arisen is motion of and in a substance called “Ether” which is not scientific matter. The motions of this substance give rise from the realistic point of view to the notion of “matter”. Matter is thus at base one, notwithstanding the diversity of its forms. Its ultimate element is on the final analysis of one kind, and the differences in the various kinds of matter depend on the various movements of the ultimate particle and its succeeding combinations. Given such unity of base, it is possible that one form of matter may pass into another.]
The soul has five states: Jagrat, Svapna, Sushupti, Turiya and Turiyatita, — waking, dreaming, dreamless sleep, ‘the fourth’ and ‘beyond the fourth’. In the state of Jagrat, the soul’s consciousness is in the gross body; in other words, it is conscious of external objects and is the gross enjoyer of these objects through the senses. In Svapna, it is conscious of inner objects and the enjoyer of what is subtle, that is, impressions left on the mind by objects sensed in the waking state. The third state, Sushupti, is neither waking nor dreaming. In this state, the varied experiences of the two former states are merged into a simple experience; consciousness is neither objective nor subjective, but a simple undifferenced consciousness without an object. In the fourth state, Turiya, the soul acquires pure experience through Samadhi. Finally, in Turiyatita the soul attains the highest equality, that is, it is merged with the Supreme Siva.
While experiencing the above states, the soul undergoes Kizhalavastha, Melalavastha and Madhyalavastha. (Melalavastha is also called Suddha Jagrat.) The next stage is Paravastha, and after that, Nirmalavastha. The soul in Nirmalavastha acquires Gnana and crosses the six Andhas,—Vedanta, Siddhanta, Bodhanta, Yoganta and Kalanta. It perceives the oneness of Pathi and Pasa, having freed itself from the three weaknesses, Kamam, Vehuli and Mayakkam. It experiences the position denoted by “you-become-that”, and grasps the greatness of Sivaparam, in terms of Seevaparam and Sakaparam.
The three stages of Mukthi are: SivaMukti, Para-Mukthi and Sorupa-Mukthi. The experienced soul does not separately feel the positions signified by “thom-thathu-asi” (you-that-become) and identifies itself solely with “that”. There is still another stage when even the position “that” disappears. In this last stage, the soul can see the mind as matter and the matter as mind. Such a soul needs no substance or quality. Like the ocean whose waves roll not, the soul is in the state of blissful quiescence.