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Suddha and Asuddha Manas

By Swami Sivananda

T
hrough the discriminating mind, the lower mind is powerfully mastered by the wise.

"Uddharet-atmana-atmanam-Let him raise the self by the Self." (Gita, VI-5)

The Two Kinds Of Mind

Suddha Manas or Sattvic mind (pure mind) and Asuddha (impure) Manas or the instinctive mind or desire-mind as it is called are the two kinds of mind according to Upanishadic teaching. There is the lower mind filled with passion. There is the higher mind filled with Sattva (purity). There are two minds. You will have to make it into one-Sattvic mind only-if you want to meditate. It is through the higher or Sattvic mind that you will have to control the lower or instinctive mind of passions and emotions.

There are two kinds of Buddhi also-Vyavaharic Buddhi and pure Buddhi. There are two kinds of Aham or Ahankara, viz., Suddha Aham which identifies with Brahman (Sat-Chit-Ananda) and Asuddha Aham which identifies with the body. There are two kinds of Sankalpa (resolve, conation), viz., Suddha Sankalpa (thoughts of God) and Asuddha Sankalpa (thoughts of body and the world).

The Asuddha Manas which creates Asuddha Sankalpa, the Vyavaharic Buddhi and Asuddha Ahankara-all these three form a vicious circle. These three work in co-operation. The seed of the mind is Ahankara. Mind is merely a bundle of thoughts. Of all thoughts, the 'I' thought is the root thought. It is the first thought also that emanated from the mind. Therefore, mind is only the thought 'I'. Buddhi is the basis of Ahankara. It is Buddhi that forces you to identify yourself with the physical body. It is Buddhi that creates difference (Bheda) and Nana Bhava (the idea of many in the world).

Characteristics Of The Sattvic Mind

A Sattvic mind like solitude, silence, simple living, high thinking, study of spiritual books, philosophical discussions, concentration of mind and company of Sadhus, Mahatmas and Sannyasins. A stainless mind can be judged through speech, face and eyes. Through these expressions, the opinion can be formed whether a person has stainless mind. Higher desires, noble aspirations, lofty ideals, true religious feeling, mercy, sympathy, pure unselfish love, devotion, Vichara (Atmic enquiry), inspiration, genius-all come from the higher, pure Sattvic mind. Suddha Manas (pure mind) is Brahman itself. It is an embodiment of purity itself.

Characteristics Of The Rajasic Mind

A Rajasic mind likes crowded cities, much talking, luxurious life, low thinking, the company of women, study of romantic novels, eating dainty dishes and selfish works. Instinctive mind is the lower, impure Kama Manas with desires, passions and appetities. The vast majority of persons have this instinctive mind only. Even the so-called civilised and educated persons live on the plane of the instinctive mind. Their senses are very sharp and acute and they run after more refined things for their sense-gratification. They identify themselves with the physical body and the senses. They have no idea of the subtle Atman which is entirely distinct from the body and the Indriyas. Their 'I' is the physical, gross body only though they know that there is a mind.

Sensual enjoyment brings on diseases and destroys the power of discrimination (Viveka). It makes the mind Malina (impure). Therefore, shun Vishayabhoga (sensual enjoyment). Try to realise the Self within wherein lies eternal bliss and immortality.

Sattvic Mind Needed For Atma-Vichara

A sharp, subtle, one-pointed, Sattvic (pure) mind is needed for Atma-Vichara (enquiry into Atman or the Supreme Spirit) and study of Upanishads. A gross mind or practical (Vyavaharic) Buddhi with selfishness and lust is absolutely unfit for Vichara and philosophical ratiocination. Selfishness clouds understanding. Selfishness is the bane of life. The mind of a worldling is ever ready to absorb sexual thoughts. It cannot imbibe subtle, philosophical ideas. It is callous and cannot vibrate properly to take in philosophical ideas. You can drive a nail in clay, but not in a stone. The mind has to be purified by Nishkama Karma, Japa, Pranayama and other spiritual Sadhanas.

Mind is compared to a mirror. If the mirror is dirty, you cannot see your face clearly. Similarly, if the mind-mirror is dirty (full of Mala, impurities-Kama, Krodha, Lobha, etc.), you cannot see God clearly; you cannot see the Self clearly. The light of Brahman cannot shine efficiently. Clean it up with effort daily, through spiritual Sadhana, meditation, strenuous Nishkama Karma Yoga, devotion, etc. You will realise God.

"Manasaiva-anudrashtavyam" is the utterance of the Srutis. Brahman is to be seen by the mind. Here 'mind' means the Suddha Manas (pure mind). Brahman can be seen by a mind which is equipped with the four means of salvation; which is rendered subtle and pure by the practice of Sama, Dama, Yama and Niyama; which is furnished with the sacred instructions of a qualified Guru and which does Sravana (hearing), Manana (reflection) and Nididhyasana (constant musing). Should the pure mind concentrate itself for some time through a study of Jnana Sastras, association with the wise and an uninterrupted practice of meditation, then in such persons developing Jnana, a divine vision will dawn in which there will be a direct cognition of the one Reality.

Slay The Impure Mind

The enemy of Atman is the impure mind, which is replete with excessive delusion and a host of thoughts. This mischievous and powerful imp of lower mind is the generator of all pains and all fears and the destroyer of all noble, spiritual wealth. Your real enemy is this impure mind only which is full of delusion, Trishnas, Vasanas and host of other impurities. Lest this enemy of mind should spoil you in diverse ways through the "enjoyments" of the many "pleasures" in this world, slay it in the hope of getting eternal bliss and spiritual illumination. Destroy the lower Asuddha (impure) Manas through the higher Suddha Manas. Destroy your instinctive mind through discrimination and help of your higher, Sattvic mind. Then and then alone will you get eternal, infinite peace and bliss of Atman. Then alone will you become a Jivanmukta.

Sattvic minds and Rajasic minds move in diametrically opposite directions. Sattvic mind unifies. Instinctive mind separates and divides. Voice from the instinctive mind will mislead you. Purify the mind and hear the voice of conscience (Sattvic mind). You will have to develop the Sattvic part of the mind by annihilating the lower, impure, instinctive mind. If the lower mind is done away with through the higher mind alone, then only will you have eternal happiness and peace. Then alone will you attain Moksha, supreme knowledge and perennial bliss. Slay this mind through constant Vichara and meditation on Om and rest in your own Svarupa, Sat-Chit-Ananda state.

How To Purify The Mind

As one iron shapes another iron, the pure mind of a person which makes efforts in the virtuous path should correct and mould his impure mind. Mind is unfailingly rendered pure through true, virtuous and pure actions and constant Satsanga (association with the wise). Speaking the truth and practice of Daya (pure compassion) are very great purifiers of mind. All lofty aspirations, all-embracing tendencies and pity-all go a long way in increasing the Sattvic material of the mind. The higher Manas is developed.

Sacrifice, gift, compassion, study of the Vedas and speaking the truth: these five are purifying. The sixth is penance well-practised. The last one is highly purifying. Pilgrimage to sacred places is also purifying. You come in contact with holy persons there. You can have good Satsanga.

Charity, Japa, Nishkama Karma, Yajna, Agnihotra, Brahmacharya, Sandhya, Tirtha-Yatra, Dama, Sama, Yama, Niyama, Svadhyaya, Tapas, Vrata, service of saints-all tend to purify the mind. There will be, doubtless, unalloyed bliss in the mind thus purified.

A Mantra purifies the mind. Mere repetition of a Mantra, parrot-like, has very little effect. It has some benefit. It must be repeated with Bhava (feeling). Then it produces wonderful effects. The Mantra, unless inspired with the powerful will-force of one's own mind, cannot produce much effect.

Study of philosophical works, right thinking, exercise of good and noble emotions, prayers and beneficent endeavours and, above all, regular and strenuous meditation are the means to improve the mind. These will bring about the rapid evolution of the mind. When the mind is purified, a hole is formed in the centre through which purity, light and knowledge flow from Brahman.

A goldsmith converts 10 carat gold into 15 carat gold by adding acids and burning it several times in the crucible. Even so, you will have to purify your sensuous mind through concentration and reflection on the words of your spiritual preceptor and the Upanishadic sentences, meditation, Japa or silent repetition of the Name of the Lord, etc.

It takes a long time to purify Harital (yellow oxide of arsenic orpiment). It has to be soaked in cow's urine for seven days, in lime water for ten days and in milk for seven days. Then it has to be burnt out hundred and eight times before a Bhasma or proper oxide (ash) is obtained. Even so, it takes a long time to effect Chitta-Suddhi, purity of mind. Severe Tapascharya (austerity) is needed.

As a result of purification of the mind, it becomes more sensitive, gets easily disturbed by a sound or shock and feels any pressure acutely. An aspirant must be sensitive and yet have the body and nerves completely under his control. The greater the sensitiveness becomes, the more difficult is the task; there are many noises which pass unheeded by an ordinary person, but which are torture to one who is very sensitive. You must do your best to get over this oversensitiveness.

Initiation Of Pure Mind Leads To Quiescence

Purification is the first part of Yoga. When purification is over, the natural tendency of the mind is to go towards liberation, Moksha. If only a disciple whose mind is cleansed of all its impurities, is initiated into the sacred mysteries by a Guru, then his mind will get complete quiescence. He will enter into a Nirvikalpa state. The Nirvikalpa state is termed Asamvedana.


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