अन्तःकरण।


The topic of this article is the dichotomy between the function of the wavering mind and that of the intellectual resolve. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where our so-called will power exerts itself to all odds that we face, be it situational or due to our own रागद्वेषs, likes and dislikes. That is, we don't let ourselves get carried away by the forces that the mind faces. However, most times, we see that we are able to assess our response, rather reaction, to any situation only as an afterthought. We think later as to what we should have done in terms of control over our senses, anger, habits, etc. We also ponder thence, looking back, something to the effect of--  "how in the world could I have done so?!" So then, why is it that we do what we do, although we know it not to be proper when we think later? Why is the response more of an instinctual reaction in the moment than anything well-thought? We surely know right from wrong as seen from our postmortem analysis!

Herein comes what the scriptures call as अन्तःकरणम् or the inner-instrument. It is an instrument because its a tool that finds its utility in various forms-- मनः, बुद्धिः, चित्तः and अहङ्कारः। That is, the inner instrument serves one as mind, intellect, memory and ego. The ego is easily understood as some form of assertion of individuality. So too, the memory is understood as a storehouse of experiential derivations and recollections thereof, when similar situations are faced. The mind and intellect are more interesting to this current topic. The mind is defined as संकल्पविकल्पात्मकं मनः and the intellect as निश्चयात्मिका बुद्धिः। The mind is that which entertains doubts oscillating between them, while the intellect is the one that resolves those doubts. The mind is चञ्चलम्, fickle and being outgoing by its very nature, it doesn't let one focus on one thing easily. It has to be trained just like a child is. Let that be.

The question then is: in situations of रागद्वेष, why is it that the intellect is unable to take decisions though it is a tool meant for that very purpose?! The answer lies in the very formation of अन्तःकरणम् which itself functions as any of the aforementioned four. Generally, when the mind is tense or under the influence of a strong desire, we see that we cannot recall something that the memory should. Krishna says in the Bhagavadgita so-- सम्मोहात् स्मृतिविभ्रमः। Similarly, when we are recalling something important, trying to remember badly, we can't process other emotions or make decisions. When we are angry, we can't think straight; when immensely happy, we forget our own self, our own existence, so to say! So on and so forth. The idea is that the same four-fold tool gets used in one function completely overshadowing the others; meaning when the emotion is strong, the mind overpowers the intellect and deludes one into doing something that one would do only unthinkingly! Krishna says later, स्मृतिभ्रंशात् बद्धिनाशः। The intellect, as though, doesn't exist at the time. The mind takes over all the functions of the अन्तःकरणम् as its own playground and the intellect is put to sleep along with the memory that should otherwise have served by recalling the pitfalls of similar erroneous behaviour earlier. Bhagavatpada Shankaracharya explains विभ्रमः as स्मृति-उत्पत्ति-निमित्त-प्राप्तौ अनुत्पत्तिः। Alas! The intellect wakes up only on the emotions, arising in the mind, subsiding on fulfilment. Bhagavatpada further explains "the destruction of the intellect" as the loss of the ability of the inner-instrument to discriminate between what is to be done and what is not to be done, कार्य-अकार्य-विषय-विवेक-अयोग्यता अन्तःकरणस्य। Thus results afterthought after afterthought, over and over again!

Since I do not want to close here on a lost hope kind of situation, let me explain a bit of what I mentioned earlier as to training the mind, just like a child is to be trained. अभ्यासेन तु कौन्तेय वैराग्येण च गृह्यते says Krishna, meaning that only by repeated practice of what is to be done and renunciation of what is not to be done is the mind grasped and trained. Here, the word repeated is to be understood as continuous. That is, शम, दम, etc, are to be developed over a continuous and long period of time, causing better संस्कारs to form new channels of thoughts. The mind picks up the newly formed habits over the old ones only when the new ones grow stronger. All these need grace in abundance, so नित्यकर्म with परमेश्वरप्रीतिः is a must. The aspect of continuity in साधन cannot be stressed enough, because not following it regularly is akin to slipping off the mountain and restarting the trek all over again. Maharshi Patanjali clearly puts this as a Yoga Sutra so-- स तु दीर्घ-काल-नैरन्तर्य-सत्कारासेवितः दृढभूमिः। That is, an unswerving foundation can be attained for the mind only by continuously practicing for a long time. The length of time is subjective to the strength of earlier संस्कारs, which becomes shorter when the practice is continuous.

May we all follow this to cross over to the most sought-after goal, मोक्षः।

ॐ तत् सत्।
श्रीगुरोः चरणकमले अर्पणम् अस्तु।
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