Earlier, I used to be unsure about what turIyAtIta meant, against turIya. When turIya itself is beyond the three states, it could be confusing to understand what can be termed beyond the fourth! Here, I'll try to express my understanding.

While the three states are:
  • waking, experienced by vishva, represented by a,
  • dreaming, experienced by taijasa, represented by u and,
  • sleeping, experienced by prajna, represented by m,
the turIya is, literally, "the fourth", thats represented by the ardha-mAtra. The fourth is actually to be used only in relation to these three states, else its meaningless. Thats the reason that this state has no name, per se, and is called the fourth. What turIya actually depicts is the natural state of existence in all the three states and hence is beyond the three states, while still including them!

When one looks at understanding turIya, it is still turIya. But once *in* turIya, none of the three states exist; in which case, usage of the term turIya is rendered meaningless. Then, all thats left is the state that was earlier termed as turIya; thats the state when no individuality of soul(s) remain(s) and there's only aikya... ekameva advitIya brahmaN..., considered beyond the fourth: turIyAtIta.

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