08 Mind (I)

VIII. The Mind (I)


No theory of the life of the Universe is at once so simple and so grand as the theory of breath (Swara). It is the one universal motion, which makes its appearance in maya by virtue of the unseen substratum of the Cosmos, the parabrahma of the Vedantins. The most appropriate expression for Swara in English is the “current of life”. The Indian Science of Breath investigates and formulates the laws, or rather the one Universal Law, according to which this current of life, this motive power of Universal Intelligence, running (as Emerson so beautifully puts it) along the wire of thought, governs evolution and involution and all the phenomena of human life, physiological, mental and spiritual. In the whole length and breadth of this universe there is no phenomenon, great or small, that does not find its most natural, most intelligible, most apposite explanation in the theory of the five modes of manifestation of this universal motion: the five elementary tatwas. In the foregoing essays I have tried to explain generally how every physiological phenomenon was governed by the five tatwas. The object of the present essay is to briefly run over the various phenomena relating to the third higher body of man – the manomaya kosha, the mind – and note how symmetrically and universally the tatwas bring about the formation and work of this principle.


It is what is in general language called knowledge that distinguishes the mind from physiological life (prana), but it will be seen on a little consideration that different degrees of knowledge might very well be taken as the distinguishing characteristics of the five states of matter, which in man we call the five principles. For what is knowledge but a kind of tatwic motion of breath, elevated into self-consciousness by the presence, in a greater or lesser degree, of the element of ahankara (egoism)? His is no doubt the view taken of knowledge by the Vedantic philosopher when he speaks of intelligence as being the motive power, the first cause of the universe. The word swara is only a synonym of intelligence, the one manifestation of the One descending into prakriti.

“I see something” means, according to our view of knowledge, that my manomaya kosha has been put into visual vibration. “I hear” means that my mind is in a state of auditory vibration.”I feel” means that my mind is in a state of tangible vibration. And so on with the other senses. “I love” means that my mind is in a state of amatory vibration (a form of attraction).

The first state, that of the anandamaya, is the state of the highest knowledge. There is then but one center, the substratum for the whole infinity of parabrahma, and the ethereal vibrations of his breath are one throughout the whole expanse of infinity. There is but one intelligence, but one knowledge. The whole universe with all its potentialities and actualities is a part of that knowledge. This is the highest state of bliss. There is no consciousness of self here, for the I has only a relative existence, and there must be a Thou or a He before there can be an I.

The ego takes form when, in the second plane of existence, more than one minor center comes into existence. It is for this reason that the name ahankara has been given to this state of matter. The ethereal impulses of those centers are confined to their own particular domain in space, and they differ in each center. They can, however, affect each other in just the same way as the individualized ethereal impulses of one man are affected by those of others. The tatwic motion of one center of Brahma is carried along the same universal lines to the other. Two differing motions are thus found in one center. The stronger impulse is called the I, the weaker the Thou or the He as the case may be.

Then comes manas. Viraj is the center, and manu the atmosphere of this state. These centers are beyond the ken of ordinary humanity, but they work under laws similar to those ruling the rest of the cosmos. The suns move the virats in the same way as the planets move around the sun.

The Functions of the Mind

The composition of the manu is similar to that of prana: it is composed of a still finer grade of the five tatwas, and this increased fineness endows the tatwas with different functions.

The five functions of prana have been given. The following are the five functions of manas, as given by Patanjali and accepted by Vyasa:

  1. Means of knowledge (Pramana),
  2. False knowledge (Viparyaya),
  3. Complex imagination (Vikalpa),
  4. Sleep (Nidra),
  5. Memory (Smrite).

All the manifestation of the mind fall under one or another of these five heads. Thus, Pramana includes:

  1. Perception (pratyaksha),
  2. Inference (anumana),
  3. Authority (Agama).

Viparyana includes:

  1. Ignorance (avidya, tamas),
  2. Egoism (asinita, moha),
  3. Retention (raja, mahamoka),
  4. Repulsion (tamisra, dwesha),
  5. Tenacity of life (abhinwesha, andhatamisra).

The remaining three have no definite subdivisions. Now I shall show that all the modifications of thought are forms of tatwic motion on the mental plane.

Pramana (Means of Knowledge)

The word pramana (means of knowledge) is derived from two roots, the predicative ma, and the derivative root ana, with the prefix pra. The original idea of the root ma is “to go”, “to move”, and hence “to measure”. The Prefix pra gives the root idea of fullness, connected as it is with the root pri, to fill. That which moves exactly up or down to the same height with any other thing is the pramana of that thing. In becoming the pramana of any other thing, the first thing assumes certain qualities that it did not have before. This is always brought about by a change of state caused by a certain kind of motion, for it is always motion that causes change of state. In fact, this is also the exact meaning of the word pramana, as applied to a particular manifestation of the mind.

Pramana is a particular tatwic motion of the mental body; its effect is to put the mental body into a state similar to that of something else. The mind can undergo as many changes as the external tatwas are capable of imprinting upon it, and these changes have been classified into three general heads by Patanjali.

Pratyaksha (Perception)

This is that change of state which the operations of the five sensuous organs produce in the mind. The word is a compound of “I”, each, and “aksha“, sensuous power, organ of sense. Hence is that sympathetic tatwic vibration that an organ of sense in contact with its object produces in the mind. These changes can be classified under five heads, according to the number of the senses.

The eye gives birth to the taijas vibrations, the tongue, the skin, the ear, and the nose respectively to the apas, the vayu, the akasa and the prithivi vibrations. The pure agni causes the perception of red, the taijas-prithivi of yellow, the taijas-apas of white, the taijas-vayu of blue, and so on. Other colors are produced in the mind by mixed vibrations in a thousand varying degrees. The apas gives softness, the vayu roughness, the agni harshness. We see through the eyes not only color, but also form. It will be remembered that a particular form has been assigned to every tatwic vibration, and all the forms of gross matter answer to corresponding tatwic vibrations. Thus, form can be perceived through every sense. The eyes can see form, the tongue can taste it, the skin can touch it, and so on. This may probably appear to be a novel assertion, but it must be remembered that virtue is not an act. The ear would hear form, if the more general use of the eye and skin for this purpose had not almost stifled it into inaction.

The pure apas vibrations cause an astringent taste, the apas-prithivi a sweet, the apas-agni hot, the apas-vayu acid, and so on. Innumerable other vibrations of taste are caused by intermediate vibrations in various degrees.

The case is similar with the vocal and other changes of vibration. It is clear that our perceptive knowledge is nothing more than a veritable tatwic motion of the mental body, caused by the sympathetic communications of the vibrations of prana, just as a stringed instrument of a certain tension begins to vibrate spontaneously when vibration is set up in another similar instrument.

Anumana (Inference)

The word anumana has the same roots as the word pramana. The only difference is in the prefix. We have here anu, “after”, instead of pra. Inference (anumana) is therefore after-motion. When the mind is capable of sustaining two vibrations at one and the same time, then if any one of these vibrations is set up and perceived, the second vibration must also manifest itself. Thus, suppose a man pinches me. The complex vibrations that make up the perception of the action of man pinching me are produced in my mind. I recognize the phenomena. Almost simultaneously with these vibrations another set of vibrations is produced in me. I call this pain. Now here are two kinds of tatwic motion, one coming after the other. If at any other time I feel similar pain, the image of the man pinching will be recalled to my consciousness. This after-motion is “inference”. Induction and deduction are both modifications of this after-motion. The sun always appears to rise in a certain direction. The concept of that direction becomes forever associated in my mind with the rising of the sun. Whenever I think of the phenomenon of sunrise, the concept of that direction presents itself. Therefore I say that, as a rule, the sun rises in that direction. Inference is therefore nothing more than a tatwic motion coming after another related one.

Agama (Authority)

The third modification of what is called the means of knowledge (pramana) is authority (agama). What is this? I read in my geography, or hear from the lips of my teacher that Britain is surrounded by the ocean. Now what has connected these words in my mind with the picture of Britain, the ocean, and their mutual relations? Certainly it is not perception, and therefore not inference, which must by nature work through sensuous knowledge. What then? There must be some third modification.

The fact that words possess the power to raise a certain picture in our minds is one of very deep interest. Every Indian philosopher recognizes it as a third modification of the mind, but it receives no recognition at the hands of modern European philosophy.

There is, however, little doubt that the color corresponding to this mental modification differs from that corresponding to either perception or inference. The color belonging the perceptive modifications of the mind is always single in nature. A certain phase of the taijas vibration must always prevail in the visual modification, and similarly the vibrations of other tatwas correspond to our different sensuous modifications. Each manifestation has its own distinctive color. The red will appear as well in the visual as in the auditory or any other vibration, but the red of the visual will be bright and pure; that of the organ of smell will be tinged with yellow; that of the organ of touch with blue, and the soniferous ether will be rather dark. There is, therefore, not the least likelihood that the vocal vibration will coincide with the pure perceptive vibration. The coal vibrations are double in their nature, and they can only (if at all) coincide with the inferential vibrations; and here, too, they can only coincide with the auditory vibrations. A little consideration will, however, show that there is some difference between the vocal and inferential vibrations. In inference, a certain modification of sound in our mind is followed by a certain visual picture, and both these vibrations retain an equally important position in our mind. We place two precepts together, compare them, and then say that one follows the other. In the verbal modification there is no comparison, no simultaneous consciousness, no placing together of the two precepts. The one causes the other, but we are not at all conscious of the fact. In inference the simultaneous presence for some time of both the cause and the effect brings about a change in the color of the effect. The difference is less great in the vocal as compared with the inferential vibration. Axiomatic knowledge is not inferential in the present, tough it has no doubt been so in the past; in the present it has become native to the mind.

Viparyaya (False Knowledge)

This is the second mental modification. This word also is derived from a root meaning motion : i or ay. “to go”, “to move”. The prefix pari is connected with the root pra, and gives the same radical meaning as pramana. The word Paryaya has the same radical meaning as pramana. The word Viparyaya therefore means “a motion removed from the motion that coincides with the object”. The vibrations of pramana coincide in nature with the vibrations of viparyaya. Certain acquired conditions of the mind imprint on the precepts a new color of their own, and thus distinguish them from the precepts of pramana. There are five modifications of this manifestation.

Avidya (Ignorance)

This is the general field for the manifestation of all the modifications of false knowledge. The word comes from the root vid, “to know”, the prefix a, and the suffix ya. The original meaning of the vidya is, therefore, “the state of a thing as it is”, or expressed in terms of the mental plane in one word, “knowledge”. As long as in the face of a human being I see a face and nothing else, my mental vibration is said to be vidya. But as soon as I see a moon or something else not a face, when it is a face I am looking at, my mental vibration is no longer said to be vidya, but avidya. Avidya (ignorance) is therefore not a negative conception; it is just as positive as vidya itself. It is a great mistake to suppose that words having the privative prefixes always imply abstractions and never realities. This, however, is by the bye. The state of avidya is that state in which the mental vibration is disturbed by that of akasa, and some other tatwas, which thus result in the production of false appearances. The general appearance of avidya is akasa, darkness, and this is why tamas is a synonym of this word.

This general prevalence of darkness is caused by some defect in individual minds, because, as we find from daily experience, a given object does not excite the same set of vibrations in all minds. What, then is the mental defect? It is to be found in the nature of the stored-up potential energy of the mind. This storing-up of potential energy is a problem of the deepest importance in philosophy, and the doctrine of transmigration of souls finds its most intelligible explanation in this. The law might be enunciated as follows:

The Law of Vasana

If anything be set in any particular kind of tatwic motion, internal or external, it acquires for a second time the capability of easily being set in motion, and of consequently resisting a different sort of motion. If the thing is subjected to the same motion for some time, the motion becomes a necessary attribute of the thing. The superposed motion becomes, so to speak, “second nature”.

Thus, if a man accustoms his body to a particular form of exercise, certain muscles in his body are very easily set into motion. Any other form of exercise that requires the use of other muscles will be found fatiguing on account of the resistance set up by muscular habits. The case is similar with the mind. If I have a deep-rooted conviction, as some do to this day, that the earth is flat and the sun moves around it, it may require ages to dislodge it. A thousand examples might be cited of such phenomena. It is, however, only necessary in this place to state that the capacity of turning easily to one mental state and offering resistance to another one is what I mean by this stored-up energy. It is variously called vasana or Sansakara in Sanskrit.

The word vasana comes from the root vas, “to dwell”. It means the dwelling or fixing of some form of vibratory motion in the mind. It is by vasana that certain truths become native to the mind, and not only certain so-called truths, but all the so-called natural tendencies, moral, physical, spiritual, become in this way native to the mind. The only difference in different vasana is their respective stability. The vasana that are imprinted upon the mind as the result of the ordinary evolutionary course of nature never change. The products of independent human actions are of two kinds. If actions result in tendencies that check the evolutionary progressive tide of nature, the effect of the action exhausts itself in time by the repellant force of the undercurrent of evolution. If, however, the two coincide in direction, increased strength is the result. The latter sort of actions we call virtuous, the former vicious.

It is this vasana, this temporary dominion of the opposite current, that causes false knowledge. Suppose the positive generative current has in any man the strength a, if too it is presented a negative female current of the same degree of strength a, the two will try to unite. An attraction that we term sexual love will then be set up. If these two currents are not allowed to unite, they increase in strength and react on the body itself to its injury; if allowed to unite, they exhaust themselves. This exhaustion causes a relief to the mind, the progressive evolutionary current asserts itself with greater force, and thus a feeling of satisfaction is the result. This tatwic disturbance of the mind will, as long as it has sufficient strength, give its own color to all perceptions and concepts. They will not appear in their true light, but as causes of satisfaction. Thus they say that true lovers see all things rose-colored. The appearance of a face we love to see causes a partial running of currents into one another, and a certain amount of satisfaction is the result. We forge that we are seeing a face: we are only conscious of some cause resulting in a state of satisfaction. That cause of satisfaction we call by different names. Sometimes we call it a flower, at others we call it a moon. Sometimes we feel that the current of life is flowing from those dear eyes, at others we recognize nectar itself in that dear embrace. Such are the manifestations of avidya. As Patanjali says, avidya consists in the perception of the eternal, the pure, the pleasing, and the spiritual instead of or rather in the non-eternal, the impure, the painful, and the non-spiritual. Such is the genesis of avidya, which, as has been remarked, is a substantial rality, and not a mere negative conception.

This mental phenomenon causes the four remaining ones.

Asmita (Egoism)

Egoism (Asmita) is the conviction that real life (purusha swara) is one with the various mental and physiological modifications, that the higher self is one with the lower one, that the sum of our percepts and concepts is the real ego, and that there is nothing beyond. In the present cycle of evolution and in the previous ones, the mind has been chiefly occupied with these percepts and concepts. The real power of life is never seen making any separate appearance, hence the feeling that the ego must be the same with the mental phenomena. It is plain that avidya, as defined above, lies at the root of this manifestation.

Raga (Desire to Retain)

The misleading feeling of satisfaction above mentioned under avidya is the cause of this condition. When any object repeatedly produces in our mind this feeling of satisfaction, our mind engenders the habit of falling again and again into the same state of tatwic vibration. The feeling of satisfaction and the picture of the object that seemed to cause that satisfaction tend to appear together, and this is a hankering after the object, a desire not to let it escape us – that is to say, Raga.


Here may investigate more thoroughly the nature of this feeling of satisfaction and its opposite: pleasure and pain. The Sanskrit words for these two mental states are respectively sukha and dukkha. Both come from the root khan, “to dig”; the prefixes su and dus make the difference. The former prefix conveys the idea of “ease” and it derives this idea from the unrestrained easy flow of breath. The radical idea of sukha is, therefore, unrestrained digging – digging where the soil offers but little resistance. Transferred to the mind, that act becomes sukha, which makes an easy impression upon it. The act must, in the nature of its vibrations, coincide with the then prevailing conditions of the mental vibrations. Before any percepts or concepts had taken root in the mind, there was no desire, no pleasure. The genesis of desire and what is called pleasure – that is, the sense of satisfaction caused by the impressions produced by external objects – begins with certain percepts and concepts taking root in the mind. This taking root really is only an overclouding of the original set of impressions arising out of evolutionary mental progress. When contact with the external object momentarily removes that cloud from the clear horizon of the mind, the soul is conscious of a feeling of satisfaction that avidya connects with the external object. This, as shown above, gives birth to desire.

Pain & Dwesha

The genesis of pain and the desire to repel (dwesha) is similar. The radical idea of dukkha (pain) is the act of digging where a good deal of resistance is experienced. Transferred to the mind, it signifies an act that encounters resistance from the mind. The mind does not easily give place to these vibrations; it tries to repel them with all its might. There arises a feeling of privation. It is as if something of its nature was being taken away, and an alien phenomenon introduced. The consciousness of privation, or want, is pain, and the repulsive power that these alien vibrations excite in the mind is known by the name of dwesha (desire to repel). The word dwesha comes from the root dwesh, which is a compound of du and ish. Ish itself appears to be a compound root, i and s. The final s is connected to the root su, “to breath”, “to be in one’s natural state”. The root i means “to go”, and the root ish, therefore, means to go toward one’s natural state. Transferred to the mind, the word becomes a synonym of raga. The word du in dwesh performs the same function as dus in dukkh. Hence dwesh comes to mean “a hankering after repulsion”. Anger, jealousy, hatred, etc., are all modifications of this, as love, affection and friendship are those of raga. By what has been said above, it is easy to follow up the genesis of the principle of “tenacity of life”. I must now try to assign these actions to their prevailing tatwas.

The general color of avidya is, as already said, that of akasa, darkness. Otherwise, the agni tatwa prevails in anger. If this is accompanied by vayu, there will be a good deal of motion in the body, prithivi will make it stubborn, and apas easily manageable. Akasa will give a tinge of fear.

The same tatwa prevails in love. Prithivi makes it abiding, vayu changeable, agni fretting, apas lukewarm, and akasa blind.

Akasa prevails in fear; it tends to produce a hollow in the veins themselves. In prithivi the timid man is rooted to the spot, with vayu he runs away, with apas he succumbs to flattery, and agni tends to make one vengeful.


Vikalpa is that knowledge which the words imply or signify, but for which there is no reality on the physical plane. The sounds of nature connected with its sight have given us names for precepts. With the additions or subtractions of the percepts we have also had additions and subtractions of the sounds connected therewith. The sounds constitute our words.

In vikalpa two or more precepts are added together in such a way as to give birth to a concept having no corresponding reality on the physical plane. This is a necessary result of the universal law of visana. When the mind is habituated to a perception of more phenomena than one, all of them have a tendency to appear again; and whenever two or more such phenomena coincide in time, we have in our mind a picture of a third something. That something may or may not exist in the physical plane. If it does not, the phenomenon is vikalpa. If it does, however, we call it Samadhi.

Nidra (Sleep)

This also is a phenomenon of the manomaya kosha mind. Indian philosophers speak of three states in this connection: waking, dream, and sleep.


This is the ordinary state when the principle of life works in connection with the mind. The mind then receives impressions of the external objects through the action of the senses. The other faculties of the mind are purely mental, and they may work in the waking as in the dreaming state. The only difference is that in dreams the mind does not undergo the perceptive changes. How is this? These changes of state are always passive, and the soul has no choice in being subjected to them. They come and go as a necessary result of the working of swara in all its five modifications. As has been explained in the articles on Prana, the different sensuous organs cease to respond to external tatwic changes when the positive current gains more than ordinary strength in the body. The positive force appears to us in the shape of heat, the negative in the shape of cold. Therefore I may speak of these forces as heat and cold.


The Upanishad says that in dreamless sleep the soul sleeps in the blood vessels (nadi), the pericardium (puritat), the hollow of the heart. Has the system of blood vessels, the negative center of Prana, anything to do with dreams also? The state of dream, according to the Indian sage, is an intermediate one between waking and sleeping, and it is but reasonable to suppose that there must be something in this system that accounts for both these phenomena. What is that something? It is variously spoken of as the pitta, the agni, and the sun. It is needless to say that these words are meant to denote one and the same thing. It is the effect produced on the body by the solar breath in general, and the agni tatwa in particular. The word pitta might mislead many, and therefore it is necessary to state that the word does not necessarily always mean lull. There is one pitta that Sanskrit physiology locates specifically in the heart. This is called the sadhaka pitta. It is nothing more or less than cardiac temperature, and it is with this that we have to do in sleep or dream.

According to the Indian philosopher, it is the cardiac temperature that causes the three states in varying degrees. This and nothing more is the meaning of the Vedic text that the soul sleeps in the pericardium, etc. All the functions of life are carried on properly as long as we have a perfect balance of the positive and negative currents, heat and cold. The mean of the solar and lunar temperatures is the temperature at which the prana keeps up its connection with the gross body. The mean is struck after an exposure of a whole day and night. Within this period the temperature is subjected to two general variations. The one is the extreme of the positive; the other the extreme of the negative. When the positive reaches its daily extreme the sensuous organs pass out of time with the external tatwas.

It is a matter of daily experience that the sensuous organs respond to external tatwic vibrations within certain limits. If the limit is exceeded either way, the organs become insensible to these vibrations. There is, therefore, a certain degree of temperature at which the sensuous organs can ordinarily work; when this limit is exceed either way, the organs become incapable of receiving any impression from without. During day the positive life current gathers strength in the heart. The ordinary working temperature is naturally exceeded by this gathering up of the forces, and the senses sleep. They receive no impression from without. This is sufficient to produce the dreaming state. As yet the chords of the gross body (sthula sharira) alone have slackened, and the soul sees the mind no longer affected by external impressions. The mind is, however, habituated to various precepts and concepts, and by the mere force of habit passes into various states. The breath, as it modifies into the five tatwic states, becomes the cause of the varying impressions coming up. As already said, the soul has no part in calling up these visions of its own free will. It is by the working of a necessary law of life that the mind undergoes the various changes of the waking and the sleeping states. The soul does nothing in conjuring up the phantasms of a dream, otherwise it would be impossible to explain horrible dreams. Why, indeed, if the soul is entirely free in dreaming does it sometimes call into being the hideous appearances that, with one terrible shock, seem to send our very blood back to our heart? No soul would ever act thus if it could help it.

The fact is that the impressions of a dream change with the tatwas. As one tatwa easily glides into the other, one thought gives place to another. The akasa causes fear, shame, desire, and anger; the vayu takes us to different places; the taijas shows us gold and silver, and the prithivi may bring us enjoyment, smiles, dalliance, and so on. And then we might have composite tatwic vibrations. We might see men and women, dances and battles, councils and popular gatherings; we might walk in gardens, smell the choicest flowers, see the most beautiful spots; we might shake hands with our friends, we might deliver speeches, we might travel into different lands. All these impressions are caused by the tatwic state of the mental coil, brought about either by

  1. physical derangement,
  2. ordinary tatwic changes,
  3. or some other coming natural change of state.

As there are three different causes, there are three different kinds of dreams. The first cause is physical derangement. When the natural currents of prana are disturbed so that disease results, or are about to be so disturbed, the mind in the ordinary way undergoes these tatwic changes. The sympathetic chords of the minds are excited, and we dream of all the disagreeable accompaniments of whatever disease may be within our physical atmosphere in store for us. Such dreams are akin in their nature to the ravings of delirium; there is only a difference in strength and violence. When ill, we may in a similar way dream of health and its surroundings.

The second kind of dream is caused by ordinary tatwic changes. When the past, the present, and the future tatwic condition of our surroundings is uniform in its nature, when there is no change, and when no change is in store for us, the stream of dreams is most calm and equable in its easy flow. As the atmospheric and the healthful physiological tatwas glide smoothly one into the other, so do the impressions of our minds in this class of dreams. Ordinarily we cannot even remember these dreams, for in them there is nothing of special excitement to keep them in our memory.

The third kind of change is similar to the first; there is only a difference in the nature of the effects. These we call the effects of disease or health, as the case may be; here we might group the results under the general name of prosperity or calamity.

The process of this sort of mental excitement is, however, the same in both. The currents of life, pregnant with all sorts of good and evil, are sufficient in strength while yet potential and only tending towards the actual, to set the sympathetic chords of the mind in vibration. The purer the mind, and the freer from dust of the world, the more sensitive it is to the slightest and the remotes tendency of prana towards some change. Consequently we become conscious of coming events in dreams. This explains the nature of prophetic dreams. To weigh the force of these dreams, however, to find out exactly what each dream means, is a most difficult task, and under ordinary circumstances quite impossible. We may make 10,000 mistakes at ever step, and we need nothing less than a perfect Yogi for the right understanding of even our own dreams, to say nothing of those of others. Let us explain and illustrate the difficulties that surround us in the right understanding of our dreams. A man in the same quarter of the city in which I live, but unknown to me, is about to die. The tatwic currents of his body, pregnant with death, disturb the atmospheric tatwas, and through their instrumentality are spread in various degrees all over the world. They reach me, too, and excite the sympathetic chords of my mind while I am sleeping. There being no special room in my mind for that man, my impression will be only general. A human being, fair or ugly, male or female, lamented or not, and having other similar qualities, will come into the mid on his deathbed. But what man? The power of complex imagination, unless strongly kept in check by the hardest exercise of yoga, will have its play, and it is almost certain that a man who has previously been connected in my mind with all these tatwic qualities will make his appearance in my consciousness. It is evident that I shall be on the wrong track. That someone is dead or dying, we may be sure, but who or where is impossible for ordinary men to discover. And not only does the manifestation of vikalpa put us on the wrong track, but all the manifestations of the mind do that. The state of samadhi, which is nothing more than putting one’s self into a state of the most perfect amenability to tatwic surroundings, is therefore impossible unless all the other manifestations are held in perfect check. Patanjali says, “Yoga is keeping in check the manifestations of the mind.”


The dreamy state is maintained as long as and when the cardiac temperature is not strong enough to affect the mental coil. But with increasing positive strength, that too must be affected. The manas and the prana are made of the same materials and are subject to the same laws. The more subtle these materials are, however, the stronger must be the forces that produce similar changes. All the coils are tuned together, and changes in the one affect the other. The vibrations per second of the first one are, however, larger in number than those of the lower one, and this causes its subtlety. The higher are always affected through the immediately lower principles. Thus the external tatwas will affect prana immediately, but the mind can only be affected through the prana and not directly. The cardiac temperature is only an indication of the degree of heat in prana. When sufficient strength is gathered up there, the prana affects the mental coil. That too now passes out of tune with the soul. The mental vibration can only work at a certain temperature; beyond that it must go to rest. In this state we have no more dreams. The only manifestation of the mind is that of rest. This is the state of dreamless sleep.

I pass on now to the fifth and last mental manifestation.

Smrite (Retention, Memory)

As Professor Max Muller has remarked, the original idea at the root smri (from which smrite) is “to make soft, to melt”. The process of making soft or melting consists in the melting thing assuming a consistency nearer and nearer to the tatwic consistency of the melting force. All change of state is equivalent to the assumption on the part of the thing changing, of the state of tatwa that causes the change. Hence the secondary idea of the root, “to love”. Love is that state of mind in which it melts into the state of the object of love. This change is analogous to the chemical change that gives us a photograph on a sensitive plate. As in this phenomenon the materials on the sensitive plate are melted into the state of the reflected light, so the sensitive plate of the mind melts into the state of its percepts. The impression upon the mind is deeper, the greater the force of the imprinting rays and the greater the sympathy between the mind and the object perceived. This sympathy is created by stored up potential energy, and the perceptive rays themselves act with greater force when the mind is in a sympathetic state.

Every percept takes root in the mind, as explained above. It is nothing more than a change of the tatwic state of the mind, and what is left behind is only a capacity for sooner falling into the same state again. The mind falls back into the same state when it is under the influence of the same tatwic surroundings. The presence of the same thing calls back the same mental state.

The tatwic surroundings may be of two descriptions, astral and local. The astral influence is the effect upon the individual prana of the condition of the terrestrial prana at that time. If this effect appears as the agni tatwa, those of our concepts that have a prominent connection with this tatwa will make their appearance in the mind. Some of these are a hankering after wealth, a desire for progeny, etc. If we have thevayu tatwa, a desire to travel may take possession of our minds and so on. A minute tatwic analysis of all of our concepts is of the greatest interest; suffice it to say here that the tatwic condition of prana often calls up into the mind objects that have made the objects of perception in similar previous conditions. It is this power that underlies dreams of one class. In the waking state too this phase of memory often acts as reminiscence.

Local surrounding are constituted by those object which the mind has been accustomed to perceive together with the immediate object of memory. This is the power of association. Both these phenomena constitute memory proper (smrite). Here the object comes first into the mind, and afterwards the act and the surroundings of perception. Another very important kind of memory is what is called buddhi, literary memory. This is the power by which we call to mind what we have learned of scientific facts. The process of storing up these facts in the mind is the same, but the coming back into consciousness differs in this, that here the act first comes into the mind and then the object. All the five tatwas and the foregoing mental phenomena may cause the phenomenon of memory. Literary memory has a good deal to do with yoga, i.e., the exercise of free will to direct the energies of the mind into desirable channels. While those impressions that take root in the mind on account of natural surroundings make the mind the unwilling slave of the external world, buddhi may lead it to bliss and freedom. But will these tatwic surroundings always bring related phenomena into consciousness? No! This depends upon their correlative strength. It is well known that when the vibrations per second of akasa (sound) pass beyond a certain limit either way, they do not affect the tympanum. It is, for example, only a certain number of vibrations per second of the taijas tatwa that affects the eye, and so on with the other senses. The case with the mind is similar. It is only when mental and external tatwic tensions are equal that the mind begins to vibrate as it comes into contact with the external world. Just as the varying states of the external organs make us more or less sensitive to ordinary sensation, so different men might not hear the same sounds, might not see the same sights, the mental tatwas might not be affected by percepts of the same strength, or might be affected in different degrees by percepts of the same strength. The question is, how is the variation of this mental tatwic strength produced? By exercise, and the absence of exercise. If we accustom the mind, just as we do the body, to any particular precept or concept, the mind easily turns to those percepts and concepts. If, however, we give up the exercise, the mind becomes stiff and ceases by degrees to respond to these percepts and concepts. This is the phenomenon of forgetting. Let a student whose literary exercises is just opening the buds of his mind, whose mind is just gaining strength enough to see into the causes and effects of things, give up his exercise. His mind will begin to lose that nice perception. The stiffer the mind becomes the less will the casual relation affect him, and the less he will know of it, until at last he loses all his power.

Ceaseless influence and activity of one sort being impossible in the ordinary course of time, every impression tends to pass away as soon as it is made. Its degree of stability depends upon the duration of the exercise. But although activity of one sort is impracticable, activity of some sort is always present in the mind. With every action the color of the mind changes, and one color may take so deep a root in the mind as to remain there for ages upon ages, to say nothing of minutes, hours, days and years. Just as time takes ages to demolish the impressions of the physical plane, just as marks of incision upon the skin may not pass away even in two decades, so also it takes ages to demolish the impressions of the mind. Hundreds and thousands of years may this be spent in devachan in order to wear away those antagonistic impressions that the mind has contracted in earthly life. By antagonistic impressions, I mean those impressions that are not compatible with the state of moksha, and have about them a tinge of earthly life.

With every moment the mind changes its color, whether the impression be adding or subtracting. These changes are temporary. But there is at the same time a permanent change going on in the color of the mind. With every little act of our worldly experience, the evolutionary tide of progress is gaining strength and passing into variety. The color is constantly changing. But the same general color is maintained under ordinary circumstances, during one earthly life. Under extraordinary circumstances we might have men having two memories. Under such circumstances as in the case of approaching death, the accumulated forces of a whole life combine into a different color. The tension, so to speak, becomes different from what it was before. Nothing can put the mind into the same state again. This general color of the mind differing from that of other minds, and yet retaining its general character for a whole life, gives us the consciousness of personal identity. In every act that has been done, or that is, or might be done, the soul sees the same general color, and hence the feeling of personal identity. In death the general color changes, and although we have the same mind, we have a different consciousness. Hence no continuance of the feeling of personal identity is possible through death.

Such is a brief account of the manomaya kosha, the mental coil in the ordinary state. The influence of the higher principle (the vijnana maya kosha) through the exercise of yoga induces in the mind a number of other manifestations. Psychic manifestations show themselves in the mind and the prana, in the same way as mental manifestations are seen influencing and regulating the prana.