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Tripura Rahasya: The Mystery of Three Cities Explained

Updated on May 22, 2020

What Is Tripura Rahasya and Why Is It Hard To Understand

Tripura Rahasya is an ancient spiritual text in the Hindu Advaita tradition. It includes teachings on Self and the nature of Consciousness. The text unfolds as a dialogue between Parashurama and Lord Dattatreya. The text can be daunting to many as the concepts expounded in the text are hard to understand despite their translation in English. Apart from this, the knowledge explained in the text requires the actual experience to affirm its validity. The spiritual process of reaching reality as explained in the text can be different for each individual. This article explains the concepts involved in the text so that anyone can grasp them easily.

How Tripura Rahasya Becomes Easier

Tripura Rahasya is challenging to grasp because of the words it uses and the meaning it attaches to the words. The concepts explained in the text can take your mind for a spin. Much of the text is very logical. However, a large portion of the text can only be realized by direct experience of the truth explained in it. You will need an accomplished master to explain what the text really means.

Here I will make Tripura Rahasya easier by explaining key concepts to you. You will understand what this book is all about in no time.

Let's get started.

The Three Cities

Tripura literally means "Three Cities". 'Rahasya' means mystery. Thus, Tripura Rahasya' translates to 'The Mystery of Three Cities'.

What are these three cities?

The text says that each individual possesses three cities.

These cities are:

1. Waking

2. Dreaming

3. Deep Sleep

Waking, dreaming, and sleeping are the three states that every individual on this planet undergoes every single day. Human life without the states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep is impossible. Isn't it strange that we ignore all these states and only care about the waking state? Tripura Rahasya says that these three states are cities that your Self rules.

During the waking period, everyone experiences a conscious world that appears to be shared by everyone. In this waking city, you have survival concerns, care for your body, and mental health concerns. Once you spend sufficient time in this city, you go to the next state called Dreaming. In the dream world, there is no limit to mind and its imagination. The dreaming city releases you from the concerns of the waking city. The dream city can appear to be very real when you are dreaming. After you spend some time here, you go to the next city: the City of Deep Sleep. In the city of deep sleep, there is no awareness of the body or the mind. Time spent in this city rejuvenates your body.

Just recall your day and you will realize that you do travel through these three cities every single day. Tripura Rahasya talks about these three cities and the nature of Self who rules these cities.

Ego is what you take yourself to be and Self is what you are.

Ego and Self

Ego is what you take yourself to be, and Self is what you are.

Every individual on this planet attaches himself to an idea of what he thinks he is. This idea consists of a name, address, parents, work, and relations with which one identifies himself or herself. Ego is just an assumption. You can identify with your body or any other mental image. It does not matter. You are not ego. Yet, ego does direct your affairs in the waking city. Much of the work in spirituality is about understanding the lack of reality ego seems to possess. Once you understand that you are not ego, you are free to experience the state of being.

If you are not your ego, who are you? You are the Self who experiences all three cities of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. You are devoid of any conception. Your Isness can be experienced without any attachment to any concept. This you have every day. You simply are not aware of this as you are aware of your ego. You try very hard to preserve your ego, to identify with something. Ego puts Self beyond your awareness.

The One Identification That Can Free You

When you identify yourself with a body, you essentially limit yourself to the reality of the body. Similarly, you also have a mind-identification. You attach to certain concepts and ideas. This you call your Self.

Tripura Rahasya says that it is an illusion that you identify with your body. If you have to attach your Self to a body, then why not attach your Self to all the bodies in the world? The text argues that you can easily identify your Self with everything and everyone on this planet. It's a very powerful assumption. It can set you free and make your mind calm.

Just imagine that you are everyone and everything in this world. All subjects are you and all objects are also made of you. Where is the other then? Whom would you fight with? Who would you attack? The moment this dawns on the mind, all mess created by ego vanishes in thin air. A calm then resides in the mind. This is the same experience as explained in Advaita Vedanta.

Identify with everyone and everything in this world. This is the identification that can set you free from all mental suffering.

A Note On How To Read Tripura Rahasya

If you are reading Tripura Rahasya, the following suggestions will help you during the reading. First of all, do not read the text in one go. Stop whenever you realize that you don't understand what's going on. The text calls for reflection and rumination of the truth it explains. If you still have some difficulty with the text, feel free to reach out. I would love to help.

© 2020 Dipraj Zagade

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