Antahkarana in Yoga Meditation
QUICK EXPLANATION ON ANTAHKARANA
Antahkarana = inner instrument, inner being. ‘Antah’ means inside and ‘karana’ means that which functions.
Antahkarana = the four functions of mind together; manas, chitta, ahamkara and buddhi – the inner instrument includes also the 10 senses (hearing, feeling, seeing, tasting, smelling, speaking, grasping, moving, procreating, and eliminating), 5 elements and 5 vayus
Antahkarana = is translated as mind. The word manas is also translated as mind. It is very useful to know that both antahkarana and manas are translated as mind. By knowing the difference between the two it is easy to recognize if the author refers to the totality of mind (antahkarana) or the function of mind that is the importer and exporter of the sensory impressions (manas).
Antahkarana and its four functions of mind
Another word for antahkarana is the mind, the totality of mind, to know how it works you will first have to know its parts. What is manas? What is buddhi? What is ahamkara? And what is chitta? These are the four function of mind and together we call them antahkarana, inner instrument. By observing the four functions of mind separately you will be able to see how they work together, and how they can be coordinated, regulated, and integrated; which is a big part of nirodhah (Yogash chitta vritti nirodhah, the second sutra of the Yoga sutras). When all the vrittis (movements in the mind-field) have gone nirodhah the result will be Yoga; the Seer resting in its own nature. Nirodhah can be translated into many different words, as there is not really one word that captures nirodhah in its totality. To regulate the vrittis is one aspect, to coordinate, and integrate are two others, but also mastering, controlling, stilling, and setting aside are translations of nirodhah. All these words together offer a glimpse of understanding which will expand when direct experiences in daily live and practice will be attained.
The more you observe the four functions of mind, the 10 senses, 5 elements, and vayus in daily life, and your understanding about them grows, the more antahkarana will be understood in its totality. You can observe its functioning in both the waking state of consciousness and the dreaming state of consciousness. And what happens to antahkarana when you are in deep sleep? Here it is all in seed form, so the totality of mind in brought back to its potential form. Eventually we go beyond all the three states and merge into the formless non-dual Consciousness, where there is no duality, therefore no mind, no antahkarana. Our true nature is beyond waking, dreaming, and deep sleep, yet we also want to know how antahkarana operates in these three level of Consciousness, so that it becomes a magnificent tool to play with in these three levels.
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DAILY OBSERVATION AND YOGIC SELF-AWARENESS ASSESSMENT
Eventually antahkarana will swim around in your awareness all the time, as it becomes a part of constant self-awareness. Also, becoming aware of antahkarana will have the effect that you will increase your use of this word in your daily vocabulary to express yourself and you will discover how antahkarana relates to other concepts, processes, or insights. For example, you may come to understand how antahkarana and the kleshas relate to each other, or how the three gunas apply to antahkarana; there is a sattvic antahkarana, rajasic antahkarana, or tamasic antahkarana. Eventually you will discover how all these concepts dance together and coming to know this dance will guide you toward that which is beyond all the concepts. This is because as you increase your self-awareness, you will discover that everything you can observe is not who you truly are, you are not antahkarana, you are the One that is able to witness all these concepts. Therefore antahkarana itself will have to be transcended, who you really are is beyond antahkarana. This will increase the non-attachment toward antahkarana itself, while you can be in awe of the beauty of the Divine dance of Consciousness that appears to play as antahkarana. Therefore practicing self-awareness is actually practicing not-self-awareness by which the True Self will eventually reveal itself.
Look at the self-assessment PDF (assessment-yymmdd.pdf) and a PDF that includes daily internal dialogue and daily observation (sumseven-yymmdd.pdf) on the website of www.abhyasaashram.org (when you are on this page scroll all the way down to find the downloadable PDFs) These PDFs can be used as tools to explore and expand your understanding on antahkarana.
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MORE ON ANTAHKARANA
Antahkarana as a wheel
The four functions of mind are described in the Upanishads as being like a wheel with four spokes. The center of the hub never moves, which is the Self, on which the wheel of the mind seems to rotate, therefore the Self seems to operate in the apparent manifestation through the four functions of mind. When I was young, I once rode a bike where the spokes where not of equal length, so the hub appeared not to be in the center. When I would ride it there was the experience as if I was riding over little hills, while the service was flat. This is a nice way to look at the way the four functions of mind need to work together, need to be equally important, otherwise I would experience the world as a bumpy road!
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SWAMI RAMA ON ANTAHKARANA
“Just as you have four external limbs – two lower extremities and two upper extremities – so your antahkarana (your inner being) also has four limbs. Antah means, “inside,” and karana means, “that which functions.” That which functions inside is the real person; that which functions outside is only a projection of the real person. You are a projections of that which you call mind. The whole of the body is in the mind, but the whole of the mind is not in the body. Therefore, the body will follow the mind; the mind does not follow the body. Mind is not a projection of body, but body is a projection of mind.”
~ Samadhi pg. 33
“The body is your physical instrument for living in the external world. Your mind or internal instrument is antah-karana. The antahkarana has four faculties that function in the interior world: manas (active mind), chitta (subconscious; storehouse or reservoir of subtle impressions or samskaras), buddhi (intellect), and ahamkara (ego, the sense of “I-am-ness” or individuality). manas has five subtle senses and five gross senses to experience the external world—the world of objects. Coordinating the four faculties requires real effort and makes the mind creative, useful, and productive.”
~ The Essence of Spiritual Life
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SWAMI JNANESHVARA ON ANTAHKARANA
Read the whole article “Integrating 50+ types of Yoga Meditation” on www.swamij.com
Meditation on the inner instruments (Antahkarana) includes the four functions of mind (manas, chitta, ahamkara, and buddhi). This is a subtler meditation than that on the Karmendriyas and Jnanendriyas. It is also subtler than meditation on visualized gross objects or the breath. Here, the aspirant has delved into the depths of the mind, not merely to meditate on the objects flowing in the stream, but to explore the mechanisms themselves by which the thought process occurs. It brings one right to the edge of Self-realization. This is an important part of Vedanta and Yoga meditation.
Read the whole article “Mandukya Upanishad and Yoga ; Twelve Verses on AUM Mantra” on www.swamij.com
Verse 4 of the Mandukya Upanishad: The first aspect of Atman is the Self in the Waking state, Vaishvanara. In this first state, consciousness is turned outward to the external world. Through its seven instruments* and nineteen channels* it experiences the gross objects of the phenomenal world.
Verse 5 of the Mandukya Upanishad: The second aspect of Atman is the Self in the Dreaming state, Taijasa. In this second state, consciousness is turned towards the inner world. It also operates through seven instruments and nineteen channels, which engage the subtle objects of the mental realm.
The seven instruments are the more macrocosmic instruments, while the nineteen channels relate more to the microcosmic, individual person.
Seven Instruments: First, Consciousness manifests outward as space, air, fire, water, and earth, along with the individuation from the whole and the flow of energy (which we know as the pulsing impulse towards breath).
Nineteen Channels: Then, the individual operates through the four functions of mind (aspects of antahkarana, the inner instrument), which are manas, chitta, ahamkara, and buddhi. Those four operate through the five pranas (prana, apana, samana, udana, and vyana), the five active senses or indriyas (karmendriyas of eliminating, procreating, moving, grasping, and speaking), and the five cognitive senses (jnanendriyas of smelling, tasting, seeing, touching, and hearing)
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OTHER TEXTS ON ANTAHKARANA
Vivekachoodamini, Adi Shankaracharya
Translated by Swami Madhavananda, Published by Advaita Ashram, Kolkatta
93-94. The inner organ (Antahkarana) is called manas, buddhi, ego [ahamkara] or chitta, according to their respective functions: manas, from its considering the pros and cons of a thing; buddhi, from its property of determining the truth of objects; the ego, from its identification with this body as one’s own self; and chitta, from its function of remembering things it is interested in.
Panchadasi, Sri Vidyaranya Swami
Translated by Swami Swahananda and Published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai (Translation under Fair Use, and believed to be in the public domain.)
1.20. From a combination of them all (i.e. sattva portions of the five subtle elements) arose the organ of inner conception called antahkarana. Due to difference of function it is divided into two. manas (mind) is that aspect whose function is doubting and buddhi (intellect) is that whose functions are discrimination and determination.
2.12. The mind, the ruler of the ten organs of sense and action, is situated within the lotus of the heart. As it depends on the organs of sense and action for its functions in relation to external objects, it is called an internal organ (antahkarana).
6.70. The internal organ (Antahkarana) has two kinds of vrittis, viz., the ‘I’-consciousness, and ‘this’ consciousness. The first constitutes the intellect, the subject-consciousness and the second the mind, the object-consciousness.
7.85. The difference between Jiva and Brahman is due to the presence or absence of the conditioning medium of Antahkarana; otherwise they are identical. There is no other difference.
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ANTAHKARANA: ON OTHER WEBSITES
According to Wikipedia:
“In Hindu philosophy, the antahkaran (Sanskrit: the inner cause) refers to the totality of two levels of mind, namely the buddhi, the intellect or higher mind, and the manas, the middle levels of mind which (according to theosophy) exist as or include the mental body. Antahkarana has also been called the link between the middle and higher mind, the reincarnating part of the mind.
In Vedāntic literature, this antahkaraṇa (internal organ) is organised into four parts:
Ahamkāra (ego) – identifies the Atman (self) with the body as ‘I’
Buddhi (intellect) – controls decision making
Manas (mind) – controls sankalpa (will or resolution)
Chitta (memory) – deals with remembering and forgetting”