Thursday, July 23, 2009

Yoga: What is Antahkarana?

Antahkarana refers to our inner faculty responsible for all our mental functions. As the Viveka-chudamani tells us, it is characterized by four distinct behaviors. When it expresses its quality of uncertainty, it is called the manas (ignorant/emotional/sense mind). The term highlights the mind’s ability to easily find dilemma, get tempted, and engage in distrust. When the antahkarana makes firm decisions and arrives at a conclusion, it is called buddhi (intellect). When it recalls memories from the past and then ponders over what it likes the most, it is known as the chitta (subconscious mind). And finally, when it maintains its mineness and places itself above everything and everyone else, antahkarana is called ahamkaar (ego).

While ego has been classified as a part of the antahkarana, it is the originator of all other constituents of material nature. According to the model of cosmic creation in the Bhagavata Purana, the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, and space), manas, and intellect are created from the ego, which, along with these material components, encloses the universe. Moreover, transcending the ego remains the everlasting objective of spirituality. Luckily, it starts disappearing with every chant of the Supreme Soul’s name and is totally lost by the time we reach him.

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