[Advaita-l] chit and chitta

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Tue Jun 14 13:46:53 CDT 2005

>Now it is well know that Vedanta divdes the mind into four parts - Ahamkara
>(ego), manas (mind), buddhi (intellect) and chitta (memory / subconscious).
>On this basis, can one not argue that this recollection of the "I" before
>and after sleep is due to chitta (memory) aspect of the mind? Why does 
>(consciousness) need to be the defining factor in this? One can say that
>'cit' provides us the sense of 'self awareness' but and it uses 'chitta' to
>provide us an idenity of being the same 'I'.

chitta is derived from chit, while chit itself can be used both in a 
relational and an absolute sense. chit is, really speaking, consciousness 
itself, while chitta works in close relationship to manas and ahaMkAra.

>Two supporting arguments:
>1. Your PC boots up (waking) after it has been shutdown (deep sleep) in the
>same Operation system it started with though it does not have any
>consciousness. This happens becuase the OS information is stored in its
>memory (chitta).

Yes, but what is presumed here is that there is a power supply to the PC, 
without which, no amount of storage in the memory can be retrieved. 
Similarly, the argument in vedAnta points out that chit has to be always 
present, even through deep sleep. The difference between human consciousness 
and a PC's memory is that the latter depends on an external source, whereas 
the former does not. Therefore, you cannot compare human consciousness with 
the fact that a PC may be disconnected from a power source and then 
reconnected and rebooted back to its latest state.

The point of the vedAnta argument (at least for the advaitin) is not so much 
that the same "I" arises after the state of deep sleep, but rather, the fact 
that throughout the different phases of being, chit is always (has to be 
always) present. It is just that chit functions through each antaHkaraNa as 
delimited by each physical body. The conclusion that chit is always present 
is also a consequence of the fact that manas and chitta are never taken as 
non-material in any vedAnta system. They are subtle and are non-visible, but 
they are material, all the same.

>2. A person suffering from amnesia has the same consciousness before and
>after memory loss but has no recollection of who he or she is. Is this not
>due to chitta being destroyed and has nothing to do with cit?

This is also addressed by the above, is it not?


ps. Regarding Sruti and interpretation, yes, there are multiple 
interpretations, but that does not take away from its pramANatva. It is 
incorrect to compare the Sruti - interpretation pair to the science - 
observation pair. Interpretation does not change Sruti, whereas science 
often undergoes changes due to observation.

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