bhagavad gita










I acknowledge this graphic from the Net.

Senses cause heat and cold, pleasure and pain

They come and go, impermanent

Endure them bravely 


Our Vedic scriptures talk about four functions of the mind. These are manas, ahankara, chitti and buddhi. Manas is the sensory gateway. It collects the inputs from all our senses, the visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory and gustatory, and converts all of them into thoughts and emotions that other parts of the mind can grasp. Ahankara is our ego, that interprets these sensory inputs based on our conditioning, the “I” ness. This creates individual mind maps, which differ from person to person as perspectives, though the observed reality may be identical. Ahankara is responsible for all conflicts as well as creativity.

Chitti puts all these mind maps into a memory base, partly easily accessible flash memory residing in our conscious mind, but mostly deeply stored memory, especially painful traumatic ones. These memories of chitti interact with the conditioning ahankara and the sensing manas to change the context of the content, especially the emotional tones. Finally, there is buddhi, the superior intelligence, which applies some meta logic to the stored conditioned mind map perception leading us to behaviour and action. Much depends on the ahankara in the way we interpret what we sense, and the buddhi, which applies a larger intelligent framework of awareness to these mind maps in defining the way we behave.

The Brihadharanyaka Upanishad says, ‘ we are what our thoughts are!’ Our thoughts are not individual elements. They are a stream of our consciousness passing through every one of the four parts of our mind.

Relating to th Western neurological model of the brain, I would relate manas to the hypothalamus, which processes sensory information, chitti to the hippocampus, which stores processed information, ahankara to the frontal cortex and buddhi to the prefrontal cortex. This can be and should be challenged, as I am no neurological expert.

What Krishna says here is this. It is our ego that creates the mind maps of pain and pleasure, heat and cold, success and failure, good and bad, through the conditioning that converts neutral observations into judgmental and emotional memories. He says these mere perceptions and change. This statement is related to Buddha’s observation of ‘anicchha’ or impermanence to everything related to our lives, and Shankara’s philosophy of maya. All reality is neutral. Nothing is good or bad, pleasure or pain. What happens ‘IS’. It is the mind that plays games on us. This is the state of mindfulness in which sensory impressions dominate.

We need to disengage with the knowledge that all this is a temporary illusion of the mind. Krishna explains how in the following verses.