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by Swami Sivananda

Vritti - its Nature And Function

Vritti means a whirl-pool. It is a wave of thought that arises in the Antahkarana. Vrittis are modifications of the mind. They are the effect of Avidya. When Avidya is destroyed by Jnana, Vrittis get absorbed in Brahman (Laya), just as water thrown in a heated pan is absorbed in the pan.

Wherefrom does a Vritti arise? From the Chitta or mind. Why does a Vritti arise? It is Svabhava of Antahkarana. What is its function? It causes Avarana-Bhanga (removes the veil of Sthula Avidya that envelops the objects). It helps the evolution of a man till he attains perfection (Jivanmukti). It is Vritti that opens the Kundalini in a Jnani in the Ajna Chakra and joins it in Sahasrara. This is one path.

The Chitta is the mind stuff. It is the mental substance. Vritti or thought-wave is a modification of that mental substance. It is a process. Just as waves and bubbles arise from the surface of the ocean, so also these Vrittis arise from the surface of the mind-ocean. Just as rays emanate from the sun, so also these mental rays (modification of Vrittis) emanate from the mind-sun. Just as the sun merges itself in the horizon at sunset by collecting all its rays, so also you will have to merge in that Sun of suns, Absolute Consciousness, Eternal Peace by collecting all the dissipated mental rays and dissolving the mind itself.

The function of a Vritti in the mind is to cause Avarana-Bhanga (removal of the veil of ignorance covering objects). Sthula Avidya or gross ignorance is enveloping all objects. When the veil is removed, perception of objects becomes possible. The Vritti removes the Avarana or layer of ignorance. When you pass through a big crowd or persons, you are able to notice a few persons. You do not see some persons, though they happen to come in front of you. Why? Because there was not complete Avarana-Bhanga. When this is done, the object shines before you.

According to Raja Yoga of Maharshi Patanjali, Pramana (right notion or right proof), Viparyaya (misconception), Vikalpa (fancy or imagination), Nidra (sleep) and Smriti (memory) are the five mental Vrittis or mental functions. If these five mental functions are suppressed, the suppression of desires and other functions will follow.

Vishayakara Vritti And Brahmakara Vritti

Through its own efforts, the mind assumes the shape of any object, it concentrates itself upon. If it thinks of a woman, it assumes the shape of a woman. This is termed Vritti Tadakara. If it thinks of God or Brahman, Brahmakara Vritti develops. In the former case, Rajas (passion) will be infused into the mind; while in the latter, Sattva (purity) will be infused.

When the mind thinks of objects and dwells on them, it assumes the shape of those objects. It is termed as Vishayakara Vritti. When it thinks of Brahman or Infinity, the Brahmakara Vritti is formed. The Sadhaka should be very vigilant and circumspect in watching the mind and its activities. He must convert Vishayakara Vritti into Brahmakara Vritti. As soon as the mind drops down from Brahmakara Vritti into Vishayakara Vritti, he should again make the mind assume Brahmakara Vritti. There is very hard struggle, indeed.

You cannot have Vishayakara Vritti as Ghatapatadi Vritti (modification of pot, cloth, etc.) and Brahmakara Vritti (thought of Brahman) also at the same time. It is Sruti Virodha (i.e. against the utterances of the Srutis). It is against practical experience also.

It is not the object that binds you. It is Vritti and identification (Tadatmya Sambandha) with the Vritti that causes attachment and bondage. It is through Avidya or ignorance that you identify yourself with Vritti as, for instance, when you say: "I am angry."

Kinds Of Vritti

Vrittis have been classified into five kinds: (1) Mano-Vritti, (2) Buddhi Vritti, (3) Sakshi Vritti, (4) Akhandakara Vritti and (5) Akhanda Ekarasa Vritti. No. 1 belongs to the instinctive mind. Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5 belong to the Sattvic mind. Mano-Vritti is the Vishayakara Vritti of worldlings. Buddhi Vritti belongs to Vivekins. When you identify yourself with the Sakshi Vritti, you can witness the modifications of the mind. When you try to feel that you are the Infinite Self, the Akhandakara Vritti is generated. It is also known as Brahmakara Vritti. There is no Vritti in Brahman.

From Mano-Vritti, you must jump to Viveka Vritti. Mano-Vritti concerns Manomaya Kosha. Viveka Vritti belongs to Vijnanamaya Kosha. By developing the Vijnanamaya Kosha, Mano-Vrittis are conquered. From Viveka Vritti, you must jump to Sakshi Vritti. From Sakshi Vritti, you must jump to Akhandakara Vritti. From Akhandakara Vritti, you must jump to Akhanda Ekarasa which is Brahma Svarupa. This is Kaivalya or final goal of life.

Antarmukha Vritti And Bahirmukha Vritti

When the outgoing tendencies of the mind are arrested, when the mind is retained within the heart, when all its attention is turned on itself alone, that condition is Antarmukha Vritti. The Antarmukha Vritti is the indrawing energy of the mind owing to increase in Sattva. The Sadhaka can do a lot of Sadhana when he has this inward Vritti.

The Bahirmukha Vritti is the outgoing tendency of the mind due to Rajas. When the vision is turned outward, the rush of fleeting events engages the mind. The outgoing energies of the mind begin to play. Further, on account of force of habit, the ears and eyes at once run towards sound and sight. Objects and desire are externalising forces. A Rajasic man full of desires can never dream of an inner spiritual life with Antarmukha Vritti. He is absolutely unfit for the practice of introspection.

You will get Antarmukha Vritti (inward-moving mind) only after you have destroyed all the externalising powers of the mind. Vairagya and introspection help a lot in the attainment of this mental state. You must starve the mind by Vairagya and Tyaga (renunciation of desires, objects and egoism). You must learn the art of making the mind introspective or turned inward upon itself through the Yogic Kriya, Pratyahara (abstraction). Just as you have to take back with care your cloth that is fallen on a thorny plant by removing the thorns one by one slowly, so also you will have to collect back with care and exertion the dissipated rays of the mind that are thrown over the sensual objects for very many years.

You will have to gather them patiently through Vairagya and Abhyasa, through Tyaga (renunciation) and Tapas and then march boldly with indefatigable energy towards God or Brahman. Those who know this practice can really be peaceful. They only can be really happy. When the mental rays are concentrated, illumination begins. Mind cannot do any havoc now. The mind cannot externalise itself. It can be kept inside the Hridaya-Guha (cave of the heart).

Destruction Of Vrittis Leads To Mental Strength

Mind gains great strength when the Vrittis are destroyed. It is not easy to destroy Vrittis (thought-waves) because they are innumerable. They should be taken up one by one and dealt with separately. Some Vrittis are very strong. They demand strong efforts for their destruction. Most of the Vrittis are very weak. Weak Vrittis melt away like rent clouds. Strong thoughts remain and frequently recur daily in the morning as soon as you rise from your bed.

Be silent. Enter silence. Silence is Atman. Silence is Brahman. Silence is centre. Silence is the Hridaya-Guha (heart-cave). When the mind runs from one object to another, that state in the interval wherein you become mindless for a very short time is Svarupasthiti. That is Brahman. When the mind is controlled fully, Vrittis cease. When all the modifications subside, you enter into the silence then and then alone. Realise this, this very moment. Feel the divine glory and Brahmic splendour now by closing the eyes, by drawing the Indriyas, by stilling the mind, by silencing the thoughts, by sharpening the intellect, by purifying the Chitta, by meditating on Om, by chanting Om with Bhava (feeling). Keep up the continuity of Brahmic consciousness throughout the 24 hours. Have an unceasing flow of Atmic consciousness. This is very, very important. This is a sine qua non. This is a great desideratum.

When all the Vrittis die, Samskaras and the frame of the mind remain. Samskaras can only be fried up by Nirbija-Samadhi.

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