Mind

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Hindu view of life accords great importance to the mind since both abhyu- daya (worldly prosperity) and niśśreyasa (spiritual progress) depend upon its con¬dition. An impure mind binds the soul to transmigratory existence whereas a pure mind leads to mokṣa or liberation (Amrta- bindu Upanisad 2). While recognising the importance of the mind as a distinguishing unique feature of human beings, the Hindu scriptures and the various systems of Hindu philosophy have given different views about its content, nature and func¬tion. A study of the mind, therefore, will not only be interesting but also useful in one’s personal life of spiritual evolution. What the Mind is The Chāndogya Upanisad (6.6.5) declares that the mind is ‘annamaya,’ made up of the subtle essence of food. It also asserts that purity of food conduces to purity of mind (ibid 7.26.2). The Brhadāranyaka Upanisad (1.2.1) describes the mind as having been produced from īśvara or Hiraṇyagarbha (Creator). It also declares, though indi¬rectly, that the soul or the Self (ātman) B23 knows the external world through the mind (vide 1.5.3). The Sāñkhya and the Yoga systems consider the mind as a product evolved from the insentient prakṛti, a direct product from ahaṅkāra (the ego-principle) and hence made up of the three guṇas— sattva, rajas and tamas. It is also, therefore, jaḍa or insentient but can reflect the consciousness of the puruṣa or the ātman (the soul). The Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika schools consider the manas or the mind as one of the dravyas (fundamental or basic realities) out of which the world is eventually created. It acts as a link between the soul and the sense-organs by which the external objects are known. Certain cults of Saivism and Śāktāism (tantras) advocate the theory that mind is a limitation or a modification of pure consciousness. As regards the size of the mind, some systems like Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika hold it as aṇu (atomic) while others (Advaita Vedānta) consider it as vibhu (all- pervading). Importance of the Mind The ultimate purpose of human life is to attain mokṣa or liberation from transmigratory existence. This is possible only when sādhanā or spiritual practice is undertaken as per the dictates of the scriptures. Sādhanā consists mainly in purifying the mind through proper per-sonal morality, social ethics and religions observances. When the mind becomes completely pure, the ātman inside is automatically revealed. Impurities of the mind are of three types: basic impurity due to its being a product of the three guṇas (sattva, rajas and tamas); impurities carried over from the previous lives, technically called ‘saiṅskāras’; impurities due to the sins and evils committed in this life. The third one can be offset by the performance of prāyaścittas or expiatory rites prescribed in the holy books as also by experiencing the suffering brought about by them. The second has to be counteracted by trying hard to cultivate the opposite, good, tendencies. When these are carried out, along with nididhyāsana or meditation on oneself as the pure ātman (ultimately one with Brahman) or any aspect of God, the rājāsik and the tāmasik contents of the mind gradually get attenu¬ated and the sāttvik part gets predomi¬nance. When this process is completed, realisation can come in a flash