Mind is the most mysterious human faculty. It happens to be so, since it is not merely a physical part of human body permitting precise physiological examination; it is but a functional attribute of such a part. Study of mind and formulation of theories on its functioning have always been a favourite intellectual pursuit of man, from the very ancient times.
Renowned for ancient wisdom transcending physical existence, the Upaniṣad(s) present a very coherent and rational series of concepts about mind, thought and consciousness in the eleven major Upaniṣads, especially in Praśna and Māṇḍūkya. However, before we set out to have a proper understanding of these concepts we should have a reasonable grasp of the greatest and the finest revelation in the Upaniṣads, which is the Ātmā.
According to Upaniṣads, Ātmā is the ultimate, changeless, non-material substance underlying this ever-changing material Universe and it is also the cause of all causes. The constitution of Ātmā is SAT, CHIT and ᾹNANDA (सत् – चित् – आनन्द). Of these, SAT is pure existence. SAT is that which has no state of non-existence (2.16 of Gīta). In English it corresponds to what is usually referred to as Existence or Being. While everything that appears as an object in this universe has a beginning and an end, SAT is eternal. Material objects come into existence, stay for some time and then go into non-existence (Gīta 2.28). That is, their existence is limited by time and space. Every being or thing owes its existence to something already in existence. So, existence in this universe is only a matter of change in form and name (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 1.4.7). If we pursue a thing or being, backward in time, to trace its ultimate point of origin, we will, passing by each stage of its existence, reach a point where further backward movement is impossible. We then reach the subtlest point of existence, where no material substance is present. This is the point of pure existence. Therefore pure existence is the origin of everything that exists in any form or in any name. This pure existence is SAT, from which everything originated. SAT is the energy that supports all relative existences and in beings, it stimulates the urge for existence (Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.2.1, 6.10.1 & 6.10.2; Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.1.6; Gīta 9.16 to 9.18 and 10.8 read with 10.20). Ātmā is SAT. How can material objects emerge from a purely non-material thing called SAT? This is made possible by unleashing opposites. The world exists in opposites. Opposites hold the key for material existence. Even the smallest particle of physical existence, the atom, exists with opposite forces, namely, the protons and electrons. Differentiation into opposites is just like representation of Zero as a combination of infinite number of positives and negatives of the same numerals, without the zero undergoing any change. Zero is therefore not at all a mere void, but it is where infinities emerge from and merge into; it constitutes a state of equilibrium. Material existence closely identifies with this model, with SAT representing Zero. At the state of equilibrium, nothing is perceivable to the senses, because of non-differentiation into opposites. In order to facilitate material existence, the opposites are unleashed and then held separate as distinct entities, without mutual merger or cancellation, by something called the force of creation, which is the energy of material existence. Thus, this phenomenal world is only a transient representation or manifestation of the Ātmā which is not perceivable to the senses.
The second aspect of Ātmā is CHIT. It is Pure Consciousness. That means, CHIT is not simply the consciousness about this or that object, it is absolute consciousness having no physical boundaries. It is CHIT that manifests as knowledge. Knowing a thing means consciousness taking the form and name of that thing. The inner urge to show and assert one’s own existence is an expression of his consciousness about himself. CHIT is that which provides the energy for activating all faculties of cognition and expression; it is an exclusive and essential feature of living beings. It defines life. In beings, it is with the help of CHIT that the embedded information in the genes is activated, as a result of which the seed/cell grows into the pre-designed form particular to each species. A coconut germinates and grows into a coconut tree only; a human embryo develops into a human being only. Likewise, various specialised organs also develop from a single cell because of this embedded information read with the help of consciousness. Further, what we see in the behaviour of a new-born calf is its consciousness in action; the calf heads towards the udder of its mother and starts sucking the teats for milk, within minutes after its birth. Pure natural instinct works here, which cannot come from matter, but handed down from hereditary information translated by the CHIT acting within. Thus, ‘CHIT’ is an integral part of our existence and it stimulates the urge to know and express.
Let us now go to the third characteristic, i.e. ᾹNANDA. Irrefutably, everybody wants uninterrupted happiness in life. It is in search of this happiness that we spend our entire life. We derive happiness with respect to many things. A thing that gives us happiness now, may not be giving us happiness at some other point of time. Similarly, the thing that gives us happiness may not be giving it to some other person at the same point of time. That means, happiness does not remain deposited in the things concerned; but we derive it from within ourselves. This happiness within is called ‘Ānanda’ (Bliss) in Hindu scriptures. This is the third characteristic of the ultimate cause, Ātmā. All that we experience as happiness are only manifestations of Ānanda within. In a deeper analysis it could be seen that it is this Ānanda that is the root cause of all our pursuits and actions. Even the urge for existence and for self-expression is caused by the desire for joy, happiness, pleasure and all. Taittirīya Upaniṣad says that Ānanda is the inner-most sheath of human existence (Chapters 2 & 3). Bṛhadāraṇyaka says (1.4.3) that it is for rejoicing that Ātmā started manifesting into beings; in other words, ‘creation’ is a ‘play’ of Ātmā.
So, Ātmā is ‘SAT–CHIT–ĀNANDA’ or ‘Existence–Consciousness–Bliss’ as it is often translated in English. All manifestations in names and forms are relative expressions of various combinations of these absolute facets of Ātmā. These three are the underlying principles of the whole universe. They maintain and control the universe. Every single Karma (deed or act) of any being springs up from anyone of these three in action within the limited existence of that being. That is, every action is motivated by the urge for either existence, or expression, or joy. Thus, SAT-CHIT-ĀNANDA or Ātmā is the ruler of this Universe. It is the core of the manifested universe, pervading entirely through all the manifestations (Gīta 8.22, 9.4 etc.). Though Ātmā pervades all beings, it has a centre of activity in every being, which is called Hṛdaya (Heart), so says Gīta 18.61. This Heart is not the heart of blood circulation, but it is where the nerves are connected (Praśna Upaniṣad 3.6, Muṇḍaka 2.2.6, Kaṭha Upaniṣad 6.16, Chāndogya 8.6.6). From the modern knowledge about human anatomy, this centre is to be understood as Thalamus, which in Greek means ‘inner chamber’. The word Hṛdaya also has the same meaning. Thalamus is considered to be a ‘switch-board’ of information.
Humans start their journey as a single cell consisting of consciousness as well as the material part that contains hereditary information. With the help of consciousness this information is read and translated into action resulting in the growth of the cell into a full-fledged human being. A grown-up man is nothing but a build-up on this cell, effected by absorbing available nourishment. That is why it is said that beings occur because of food or nutriment (Mundaka Upaniṣad 1.1.8; Gīta 3.14).
The power of Ātmā to express himself in many forms is called his Māya or Prakṛti. With this Prakṛti he projects transient beings (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 4.10, Gīta 9.8 &9.10). We have already seen that it happens by unleashing opposites. This projection is somewhat like throwing a stone upwards from the surface of the earth using a physical force; it reaches a certain height and then falls down on the earth itself. The earth and the stone are bound by the invisible power of gravity. In the same way every being gets projected from Māya and in the end returns to her, the gravity here being the invisible Ātmā. The entire universe is thus projected and withdrawn periodically (Gīta 8.18 & 8.19). This fact is recognised by the modern theory of creation of the universe, namely the Big Bang theory. Ātmā remains in his pure state in the beginning and in the end. For the purpose of creation, Ātmā invokes his power of Māya (or Prakṛti) (Śvetāśvatara 4.10; Gīta 13.19, etc). With Maya/Prakṛti invoked, he is known as Puruṣa. Bṛhadāraṇyaka says (1.4.1) that there was only Ātmā in the beginning in the form of Puruṣa. Creation started with the production of Rayi and Prāṇa (Praśna 1.4). Rayi is simply the physical energy and Prāṇa is the energy of life. From these two, the entire universe of living and non-living beings emerged. It is a process of expansion which will stop one day followed by contraction culminating in the disappearance of all physical existence. The Big Bang theory says that the universe occurred by the expansion of a single atom and in the end it will regain its original state through contraction. How and when life appeared is not properly explained in this theory.
Praśna (3.5, 3.6 & 3.7) says that Prāṇa works in the body in five different ways, splitting itself into five, namely, the Chief Prāṇa (मुख्य प्राण), Apāna (अपान), Samāna (समान), Vyāna (व्यान) and Udāna (उदान). This is only a functional division of the Prāṇa. The Chief Prāṇa provides life energy for the entire system and is specifically in charge of the systems connected with eyes, ears, mouth and nose; Apāna takes care of digestion, urination, defecation and allied systems; Samāna works in the middle part of the body controlling distribution of nutrients to various parts in an equitable manner (this is probably concerned with the cardiovascular system); and Vyāna moves in the nervous system facilitating the transmission of impulses between brain or spinal cord and other parts of the body. The nervous system, says the Upaniṣad (3.6), is connected to the ‘Heart’ (Hṛdaya), which is the centre of consciousness within. It is said that there are one hundred and one main nerves connected to the ‘Hṛdaya’. Each of these nerves has seventy-two lakh branch nerves, taking the total number of nerves to seventy-two crores and seventy-two lakhs (727,200,000). Udāna works in one of the main nerves which projects upwards, called Hitā, presumably spreading out into the brain, with its branches numbering 7200000 as per the above count. Bṛhadāraṇyaka says (4.3.20) that it is very thin and fine as a hair split into thousand parts and is of different colours like blue, brown, green, red and white and also that it is responsible for our perceptions of various hues. Udāna controls and co-ordinates functions of the instruments for internal action, known as Antaḥkaraṇa (अन्तःकरण) and because of this, it is instrumental in leading us forward to new worlds of varying experiences, in accordance with the nature of our knowledge and Karma (Praśna 3.10).
Having its centre in Hṛdaya, consciousness pervades the entire body through the nerves with the help of Vyāna. Consciousness provides the energy for cognition and action to all the organs of sensation and action. We have got five organs of sensation, namely, ears, skin, eyes, nose and tongue; and five organs of action, namely, mouth, feet, hands, organ of excretion and organ of procreation.
In addition to these, humans have four instruments for internal action, which together are known as ‘Antaḥkaraṇa’. The word ‘psyche’ can be taken as its English equivalent. The four components of Antaḥkaraṇa are ‘Manas’ (मनस्), ‘Buddhi’ (बुद्धि), ‘Ahamkāra’ (अहम्कार) and ‘Chitta’ (चित्त). These are actually notional divisions of brain-functions, designed for the purpose of better and systematic understanding of internal activities. Probably this system of division is exclusive to Hindu Philosophy. Of the four Antaḥkaraṇa(s), Manas is involuntary in its functions, just like heart-beat, breathing, etc.; Buddhi is voluntary. Ahamkāra and Chitta are neither voluntary nor involuntary.
From the stage of the very first cell or the seed, every being contains some basic hereditary information necessary for the development and maintenance of its body. Such information constitutes its knowledge base, upon which all pieces of knowledge, said to be later acquired by the being, are built up. The location of this initial knowledge base grows to form what we call ‘Chitta’, in human beings. Chitta is the core of ‘Antaḥkaraṇa’ as it is the Knowledge Centre. It is where Ātmā is reflected within the body. If Ātmā is Sun, then Chitta is Moon. Ātmā is pure consciousness whereas Chitta is consciousness about various things. That is why it is called the reflector of Ātmā. These two, namely the Ātmā and its reflection, are depicted in the Upaniṣads as two birds sitting on the same tree as close associates and, of the two, one eats delicious fruits and the other simply looks on without eating anything (3.1.1 & 3.1.2 of Muṇḍaka and 4.6 & 4.7 of Śvetāśvatara). Chitta is the store-house of all knowledge that one acquires.
Ahamkāra is self-consciousness; it is the individual ‘I’ within every one of us; it is the consciousness of being ‘I’. It consists of our own perception of us; that is, what we perceive us to be and what we want to project us to be. Ahamkāra is the enjoyer within, enjoying all actions, feelings and other things. It is at his instance all voluntary actions are undertaken.
Buddhi is intellect and is the agent of reasoning. It intervenes in the activities of Manas when so desired by Ahamkāra, so that reason and logic prevail in such activities. By way of such intervention, it obtains control over the sense organs and motor organs wherein Manas acts as a bridle (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 3.3 & 3.4 and Gīta 3.42). In exercise of its power of reasoning at the instance of Ahamkāra, Budhi performs some kind of ‘emigration and immigration checks’ on the access of information from Chitta which Manas does for the purpose of construction of valid perceptions in respect of sense-signals conveyed to it.
Manas, which is often translated as ‘mind’ in English, is that part of the Antaḥkaraṇa which acts as regulator and co-ordinator of the activities of sense organs and motor organs. ‘Manas’ receives signals from the senses, processes them with reference to the stock of information already available in the Chitta and thereby constructs valid perceptions. This is how we see, hear, taste, smell and feel and thereby cognize facts and objects. Thus, seeing is not merely an act of eyes; it is but perceiving. So is hearing, tasting, smelling and feeling (by touch).
Our experience is not limited to the raw impressions conveyed by senses; a touch may give us an experience of love or the opposite of it, namely, aversion. Sense can convey only the touch; but we experience more than that. We grasp what is expressed as touch; it may be love or hate. We feel love or hate not merely by touch, but by perceiving with the involvement of the entire Antaḥkaraṇa. Chhāndogya Upaniṣad says that one knows only through reflecting (7.18.1).
This process of perception and cognition is followed by the higher act of acquiring knowledge. How do we do that? Acquiring knowledge is a continuous process starting from a foundation upon which each piece of information or idea is coherently stacked resembling the construction of a building. The initial foundation is the embedded hereditary information we get from parental sources. On this general foundation we lay a separate foundation for each category of knowledge and start the unending process of erecting upon it the knowledge-mansion particular to that category, by continuously modifying and expanding the structure with newly processed information and ideas. The entire process runs as follows: Senses pick up signals from objects external to each of them. These are merely raw signals conveying no meaning. For example, the eyes work as a lens and form an inverted image of the object, which they are directed to. Eyes are unable to read this image. That task is done by ‘Manas’ which is the internal faculty (Antaḥkaraṇa) directly connected with the senses. On receiving the sense-signals, Manas contacts Chitta and conducts a scan therein to see whether any information exists relating to the current signals. In case, some such information exists, then Manas compares the received signals with it and thus perceives the object or data pertaining to such signals. With such perceptions as raw materials and further accessing relevant information from Chitta, Manas constructs new valid information and ideas. These are the building blocks which Manas uses for furthering the construction of various mansions of knowledge in Chitta. In case any new information or idea fits well with any of the existing knowledge-mansions in Chitta, then that mansion is modified accordingly; on the other hand, if there does not exist any corresponding mansion, then the new information or idea is either used as foundation of a new mansion or rejected altogether as unusable or extraneous. If Ahamkāra desires so, Buddhi overlooks all these operations contributing with its power of reasoning. All these operations are powered by the energy of cognition and action provided by the consciousness within, which is utilised by the concerned organs with the help of Vyāna and Udāna. It is thus we acquire knowledge and enlarge our knowledge base in the Chitta. That means, in the process of gaining knowledge what actually happens is not a mere absorption as such from external agents, but an internal building-up which is compatible with the existing stage of construction of some mansions in Chitta. It is a stage-by-stage process. That is why we cannot grasp anything that lacks a related base within us.
Suppose we see a flower. When the eyes form its image, the concerned signals are picked up by Manas which makes a search in Chitta to find out some tallying information regarding shape, colour, smell and such other characteristics and, on the basis such information, recognises that it is a flower. On further search, it may turn out that this flower is bigger than any other flower already observed. A new idea or information is thus formed and added to the stock in the Chitta regarding flowers. Manas may also infer another idea that flowers can be as big as this one. Thus, many new ideas may be formed at the perception of this particular flower. In the Chitta, the knowledge-mansion in respect of flower is accordingly modified.
If the viewer is a botanist he may observe the flower’s various parts, namely calyx, corolla, androecium and gynoecium and study their characteristics. His knowledge mansion concerning the flower would then be modified on the basis of the new information generated by Manas.
In this case, if the viewer has not seen flowers previously, foundation of a new knowledge-mansion regarding flower is laid in his Chitta, which consists of the shape, colour, scent and such other qualities he recognises in it, based on the information already available in his Chitta.
From the preceding explanation it is evident that the knowledge one acquires is basically relative in nature rather than absolute. It is relative to the pre-existing level and nature of knowledge within him.
There is an aspect of abundance as well as variety in the knowledge that can be acquired of any object in nature. It is therefore quite natural that the knowledge one acquires thereof is limited by the current status of the concerned existing knowledge-mansion in his Chitta. The activity of Buddhi is also limited by such status, since Buddhi can only supervise the jigsaw-puzzle-solving based on the pieces accessed from the then existing stock of Chitta. Buddhi, with its astuteness and power of reasoning defines the efficiency with which the jigsaw-puzzle-solving is accomplished. Thus, the knowledge acquisition is dependent on the level of existing knowledge within and also the sharpness of Buddhi. This explains the difference in knowledge or even the impressions different persons obtain from a particular object or set of facts.
All the limitations in a person are dictated by the relative predominance of what is called the Three Guṇa(s) in him at the relevant period of time. Guṇa(s) originate from Prakṛti wherein they are in equal proportion and therefore not distinguishable. They are three in number and are the qualitative content of Prakṛti. The three Guṇa(s) are Sattvam, Rajas and Tamas. Sattvam is enlightening in nature and it inspires a longing for joy and knowledge; Rajas stimulates action since its nature is desire and attachment; and Tamas is retarding in nature and it creates negligence, idleness and indolence (Gīta 14.6, 14.7 & 14.8). Disproportion among the three Guṇa(s) is inherent to the manifested world. Their relative proportion almost remains the same in any being throughout its life; but which Guna takes control at a particular moment depends on the nature of thought motivated by Ahamkāra at that time. Thus, the thought process and the change in the controlling Guṇa(s) are mutually impacting in a vicious-circle manner. This vicious circle is broken when Ahamkāra establishes, out of strong conviction, a thought in Chitta to the effect that meek submission to the impact of Guṇa(s) is a bondage detrimental to true and sustained happiness.
The current controller Guṇa in a person determines his disposition, which in turn, determines the type of knowledge one is likely to gain from the variety and abundance in knowledge that an object provides. Knowledge acquisition is therefore subjective also, apart from relative. That means, it is a process marked by subjective relativity.
Thinking is a process wherein Manas accesses relevant information from Chitta regarding the subject under consideration and attempts to arrive at cognisable ideas and possibilities arising out of such information, aided by the reasoning power of Buddhi. It may be described as an attempt to solve a jigsaw puzzle as already stated. Reasoning is the process of arriving at what follows necessarily and essentially from the given data. At times, without the reasoning involvement of Buddhi, it may happen that Manas accesses information from Chitta and goes through the thinking process alone; but, due to lack of reasoning, this ends up in mere construction of imageries and projections which we call dreams and imageries. At the time of dreaming, as a prelude to sleep, the sense organs are in a state of shut-down and Manas constructs false perceptions, without any signals from them, solely using the accessed information from Chitta. Most probably, such information must be the one which it has last accessed. It may thus be seen that dreams are entirely the creation of the involuntary Manas without the involvement of either Buddhi or sense organs. Praśna Upaniṣad says that when all the sense organs merge into Manas and lie dormant there, we enjoy dreams wherein we see again what has been seen before, hear what has been heard before and enjoy again what has been enjoyed before. We also enjoy the unseen, unheard, unperceived and unreal (Praśna Upaniṣad 4.2 & 4.5).
As already mentioned, all perceptions are raw materials for construction of valid information or ideas, which in turn are building blocks of knowledge-mansions. All perceptions are recorded in Chitta at first and then utilised for constructing information or ideas. As soon as the latter is done, individual existence of perceptions fades away as they have already become part of some information or idea. It becomes very difficult to retrieve them as such, thereafter. It is just like individual bricks in a construction being ignored and only the construction as a whole getting appreciated. If somebody is called a ‘good man’, there may be a number of perceptions recorded on various occasions, which led to such an idea. In due course it may happen that such individual perceptions fade away and only the idea of ‘good man’ shines. In other words, ‘data exit – idea exists’.
One’s personality is the cumulative essence of the contents of his Chitta. Whatever we come across or experience in our life leaves a corresponding perception recorded in Chitta; but in due course, as mentioned above, such perceptions may cease to exist as such, since it gets absorbed into some idea, either old or new, by modifying, confirming or deleting the same. There is no substance in the argument that a cinema watched or a story read is not going to influence anybody to the extent of inducing him into doing or not doing anything. Every experience of a person contributes to the accumulation of perceptions and resultant modification of ideas in his Chitta. A child who is brought up in a domestic atmosphere wherein liquor consumption is a part of daily life of the adult members does not show any aversion to drinking. But, when he gets a chance to watch a cinema or read a story depicting the ill-effects of drinking, a negative idea regarding drinking gets recorded in his Chitta. This is confirmed further, when he happens to come across other propaganda materials. The culminating idea in him will be that consumption of liquor is injurious to health. Similarly, every experience contributes to one’s stock of ideas or knowledge either positively or negatively. Nothing goes without an impact. True, we may not be having a distinct or detailed log of all such impacts; but they are definitely there. All our ideas are culminating versions emerging from continuous alterations caused by such impacts. Vicariously, so are our conduct, character and personality. It is just as a sculpture is chiselled out from a rough stone, the said impacts being the strikes of chisel.
From ideas originate resolves. When a resolve gets established in our Chitta, its impulse first goes to the Chief Prāṇa (Praśna 3.10). A resultant impact occurs in our breath, look, hearing and salivation as these activities are controlled by the Chief Prāṇa. Since Udāna operates in close conjunction with the Chief Prāṇa, it picks up the reverberations and then acts accordingly. These two, together with the consciousness within, lead us forward. The stronger the resolve, the greater is the impulse. Udāna inspires the relevant faculties to be activated by our consciousness so that even without our volunteering we are led to that course of action which furthers our resolve to advancement or, may be, ultimately to fulfilment. The intensity as well as concentration of our resolve is what we call will-power. Similarly, when we feel contempt or appreciation for a person, then Udāna makes us sense whatever furthers such contempt or appreciation and we are led accordingly. These are all experiences of our daily life. Gīta too says that our attention is defined by how we are disposed of internally (17.3).
In the body, consciousness operates in three states, namely, Jāgrat (जाग्रत्) or wakefulness, Svapna (स्वप्न) or dream and Suṣupti (सुषुप्ति) or sleep. In the Jāgrat state, all the four Antaḥkaraṇa(s), sense organs and motor organs are so active that they are capable of utilising the radiance of consciousness to the maximum permissible within their physical limitations. As a result, expression of the radiance of consciousness is full within the given body limitations (Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad 3 and Praśna Upaniṣad 4.2, 4.5). In this state the Prajña (प्रज्ञ), which is the knowing power or intelligence, acquires full exposure.
Svapna is the state of transition from Jāgrat to Suṣupti, wherein all voluntary functions of Buddhi, Manas, sense organs and motor organs subside following a decision to that effect taken by Ahamkāra on evaluation of relevant information available for the time being, in Chitta regarding body needs. In this state, because of this restraint, radiance of consciousness is not fully expressed. Dreams occur in Svapna state through the involuntary activities of Manas, as described above (Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad 4). In this state Prajña is exposed only inwardly.
In the Suṣupti state, the involuntary activities of Manas also are stopped and as a result the radiance of consciousness gets the least expression. Prajña is contained within Chitta with the least exposure. Consequently, nothing is cognised from either outside or inside. The content of Chitta is thus reduced to Prajña alone, all the acquisitions therein having been suspended for the time being. Further, Ahamkāra, that is, the mere sense of ‘I’ness, remains and all his possessions are detached from his hold; in other words, all that is ‘mine’ vanishes. This is the state of deep sleep (Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad 5).
Only Prāṇa(s) are active at this state (Praśna Upaniṣad 4.3). They do whatever is required to sustain life, since they are the sustainers of life designated as such by the ‘trinity’ of ‘Existence-Consciousness-Bliss’, which is Ātmā (Praśna Upaniṣad 1.5, 2.4).
Transcending the Suṣupti state is the Turīya (तुरीय) or Fourth State of consciousness, wherein there is only pure consciousness; even the Prajña is dissolved into that eternal, all-pervasive and indescribable pure consciousness. All phenomena cease in it (Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad 7).
Thus, consciousness is not a property of the mind; but it is the energy with which mind works. There is no mind without consciousness. The Freudian classification of mind into levels such as conscious, preconscious and unconscious therefore appears to be unfounded. What Freud calls preconscious and unconscious levels of mind can only refer to the contents of Chitta, which Manas accesses in execution of its functions. Manas is equivalent to what he refers to as conscious mind. We have already seen that Chitta is the store-house of all information and knowledge one possesses and that such information and knowledge form the fundamental basis of all his physical and psychological activities. Freud transfers this credit from Chitta to what he calls the unconscious mind. Unconscious implies dead and a dead part cannot have active influence on one’s behaviour and experience. We have seen that one may not be able to recall each of his experiences as such, since those individual experiences may have already merged with some idea or information, appropriately modifying it; we called this process as ‘data exit – idea exists’. Moreover, Freud bundled all functions of the psyche into one and attached it to mind; this created the confusion leading to the differentiation into so-called levels and the consequent perverse nomenclature.
Ātmā is the ruler of the entire universe pervading all the beings. Since its constitution is ‘SAT–CHIT–ĀNANDA’ or Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, the motivating force of all beings is the urge to exist, to know and express and also to derive joy. Due to the veil of ignorance put up by Guṇa(s) of Prakṛti, beings do not recognise the Ātmā within (Gīta 7.13). They see themselves as mere physical beings and strive to ensure existence, expression and joy for their physical entity. Infants present an innocent expression of this truth, innocent because they don’t know anything about the world around and its pressures and recoils. As they grow, they gain knowledge about the rigours of worldly life and make suitable adjustments, improvements and compromises, but still aiming at attaining perpetual existence, unbridled expression and eternal bliss in their physical body. The finest point of the knowledge one gains is the realisation that one has no existence without the existence of the whole and therefore he has to strive primarily for the existence, expression and joy of the whole. This is what is called Dharma; the meaning of Dharma is ‘that which ensures existence (of the universe collectively)’ or in other words, that which conforms to the principle of SAT–CHIT–ĀNANDA. This pure, absolute principle is the driving force for all beings for all time and therefore, action or deed (Karma) that is in conformity with it is said to be eternal virtue or Sanātana Dharma. All the moral dictates of all the times have always been off-shoots of this eternal principle, limited only by the knowledge levels of the society during any particular period.
The ultimate aim of beings is to merge with this principle, that is, Ātmā, shedding all the physical bondages, because the trinity of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss is the driving force in all beings and we invariably see in them a desire for perpetual existence, unbridled expression and eternal bliss. This can be made possible by human beings through attaining supreme knowledge as well as practising austerities, while still being in physical existence, so say the Upaniṣads (Kaṭha 3.8, 4.15; Muṇḍaka 3.1.3, 3.1.9, 3.2.8; Śvetāśvatara 5.14). The state so attained to is absolute and changeless, wherein only pure existence, consciousness and bliss, devoid of physical attributes, exist (Gīta 15.5, 15.6). This is within every one of us all the time; but we don’t recognise it since we are oriented outwardly due to improper knowledge level (Gīta 7.27).
Freud’s ‘Ego’ is a product of the efforts to uphold ‘Dharma’; ‘Id’ indicates total absence of knowledge except the basic urge to exist which acts involuntarily for obtaining what is necessary to satisfy that urge. His ‘Super Ego’ is the eternal principle of ‘Dharma’ which acts in every person as a reflection of Ātmā.