some thoughts on the mind - 2

Gummuluru Murthy gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA
Thu Apr 29 15:15:51 CDT 1999


It was stated in the earlier post that mind (the manas) is made up
of the food we eat and that manas is an important requisite for knowledge.
For an intense seeker of truth, knowledge how the mind functions may be
immaterial. Further, this knowledge which the mind is so requisite in
acquiring is only the lower knowledge (classification of knowledge into
upper and lower as per MuNDAka upanishad, 1.1.4). Also, neither the sense
organs by themselves, nor the sense organs in conjunction with the manas
are by themselves sufficient. As Kena upanishad puts so beautifully (1.2
to 1.9), it is the Self behind the sense organs that makes the eyes to
see, the ears to hear and the manas to function.

There are beautiful parables on the manas in the upanishads. ChAndogya
upanishad (6.8.2) says: The mind, like a bird bound to a string, is bound
to the soul. It flies in all directions and failing to get a resting place
anywhere else, returns to the place of bondage. Thus, the mind is bound to
the soul. The Katha upanishad, in the chariot analogy (1.3.3 to 1.3.5),
equates the manas to the reins. Under control of a good chariot driver
(buddhi), the manas (the reins) control the sense organs (the horses).
The same chariot analogy appears in the BhagavadgItA also.

Brahman and Atman are one. Atman, when it becomes limited by the upAdhis,
is known as the individual jeeva who is the knower and to whom knowledge
is supplied by the sense organs and the manas. The distinction of the
knower, the knowledge and the process of knowledge are not there for
the Atman, but is there for the jeeva. Shri Shankara in
BrahmasutrAbhAshhya  (BSB)(II.3.40 and also adhyAsabhAshhya) points to
the illogicity of superimposition (of subject and object) and further
says it is still done in spite of it being illogical. Shri Shankara
says that all instruments of knowledge  (including buddhi and manas)
are limiting upAdhis on the Atman.

The principal upAdhi superimposed on the Atman is the antahkaraNa,
the internal organ of knowledge (BSB II.3.32). This is known in
different contexts by different forms, depending on the function.
The various forms of antahkaraNa are manas (mind), buddhi (intellect),
citta (thought) etc. AntahkaraNa is called manas when it is in a state
of doubt (samsayAdi vr^ttikam manaityucyate BSB II.3.32) and it is
called buddhi while it is in a state of determination (nishcayAdi
vr^ttikam buddhvitih BSB II.3.32). By whatever name it is known,
Shri Shankara argues that such an internal organ of knowledge is an
essential necessity. Shri Shankara's reasoning is: If the Atman (in
its limited state, limited by the upAdhis, I use the word soul here to
refer to this state), sense-organs and the objects alone were enough
for perception, then there would be perpetual perception since the soul
is eternal and the sense-organs and the objects are always interacting.
If these three (the soul, sense-organs and the object) are not sufficient
for perception to take place, no perception would occur, even if these
three are present always. For perception to take place, we need, in
addition to these three, an internal sense-organ "through whose
attention and non-attention, perception and non-perception take place"
(BSB II.3.32, Thibaut). Shri Shankara uses Br^hadAraNyaka upanishad
(1.5.3) in support of the above argument. Br^hadAraNyaka 1.5.3 says
"my mind was not paying attention, hence I did not hear, etc.."
i.e. one hears with the mind, sees with the mind. That is, all
empirical experience, experience of this jagat is because of

Manas is minute (BSB II.4.7). It is subtle and limited in size,
because at death when the manas leaves the physical body, it is
not perceived. If it were big, it should be capable of being
perceived. Further, manas or buddhi are not the agents of
knowledge, but only instruments of knowledge. That is, they are
never kartA.

To conclude this section, manas is material and subtle and is an
instrument (of knowledge) of the soul, or of the lower self. Manas
is the central functionary on which the five karmendriyAs (organs
of action) and the five jnAnendriyAs (organs of knowledge) are
dependent. These eleven make for the whole conscious life of the
individual. My reading of BSB II.4.17 says that Shri Shankara
considers manas also as a sense organ.

I like to touch on in my next post how manas acquires the perceptual
knowledge (for use by the soul) by means of the sense organs.

Gummuluru Murthy

Gummuluru Murthy
Yadaa sarve pramucyante kaamaa ye'sya hr^di shritaah
atha martyo'mr^to bhavatyatra brahma samashnute   Katha Upanishhad II.3.14

When all the desires that dwell in the heart fall away, then the mortal
becomes immortal, and attains Brahman even here.

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