The Structure of Human Mind

Next to the Self of Life comes the Self of Mind.  Prashna Upanishad classified human mind into five categories:  Chitta, Manas, Buddhi, Ahankar and Tejas.  These are some of the foundational concepts of Indian psychology which we will discuss in much greater detail in other sections of this blog.  This article presents a brief review of the structure of human mind as it is conceived in the Prashna Upanishad.

Chitha is the basic substratum of the human mental consciousness.  It is perhaps that part of the human consciousness, which provides the link and continuity with our past evolution.  Chitha contains the impressions, called as sanskaras in Indian psychology, of all the experiences of our past evolution.  Manas is the sensational mind or in other words the consciousness behind the sense-organs which receives and responds to the inputs transmitted through them.  Buddhi is the intelligent will which can think, reason, discriminate, judge, choose, apply the force of will and persist in its choice.  But the term Buddhi is sometimes used to refer to that faculty in human mind which is sensitive to higher values like Truth, Beauty and Goodness.  Ahankar is the ego-sense, that which gives the sense “I” and “mine”; when it is animated with the vital desire becomes the urge for personal possession and attachment.  But Ego is not confined to Mind; it pervades the whole human organism, from body to mind.

The other faculty, which is mentioned in Prasna Upanishad, is Tejas.  Tejas means light or luster.  We may define Tejas in general as the essential light of awareness inherent in the mind or more specifically the inner luster or illumination which emerges in the process of yoga.  In our ordinary human consciousness the light of awareness is very much obscured, scattered, diluted and distorted by the heavy inertia of our body, turbulence of our vital desires and the restless wandering of our thoughts.  But when the heart is purified of desire, mind is emptied of thought and the whole being is turned inward to the spirit, then the higher light of the spirit enters into our whole inner and outer being resulting in an increase in the light of consciousness, and an inner luster¾tejas. According to Sri Aurobindo, tejas develops by the discipline of Brahmacharya.  The term is normally translated as Celibacy.  But in the Science of Yoga, Brahmacharya is the process or discipline by which sexual energy is transformed into spiritual energy.  When the vital energy behind the sexual impulse is controlled, preserved and sublimated it is transformed into inner heat and light illumining and energizing the whole human organism with an inner luster called as Brahmatejas in ancient Indian thought.


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