Exploration of Indian Yoga Psychology

A blog on the Transpersonal Psychology of Indian Yoga and the Spiritual Genius of India (another blog of the same author – http://integralmusings.aurosociety.org)

Manas – The Sense Mind-M.S. Srinivasan

imagesThe second power of the psychological equipment of man is Manas. Here again we have to go beyond the superficial translation of the sanskrit term into the omnibus english word “Mind” which indiscriminately lumps all shades and levels of mental activity into a single word.

The Only Sense

In Indian psychology “Manas” is the word used for the sensational Mind. According to Indian psychologists Manas is the only Sense. It is the single psychological principle which differentiates itself into four functional divisions as the organs of touch, sight, hearing and smell. Metaphysically Manas is the principle bywhich the Purusha enjoys the world of Prakrithi through the sense organs.

Manas is already there in the animals. With the advent of Manas comes the conscious perception of sensational pleasure and pain and the instinctive response to avoid painful contact and seek for the pleasurable impact. But in man, the response of the manas to sensational impact is no longer purely instinctive but has acquired emotional and mental values. In the human Manas, there is an element of thought and emotion; every one of its movements is suffused with these higher elements. In fact the surface emotional being–not the deeper or the inner emotional being — of the externalised personality of man, what we call as “heart”, is made of the substance and psychology of chitta and manas. It is chitta-manas — an instinctive, sensational and emotional mentality.

Implications for Education and Yoga

What is the application of this Indian concept of Manas to Yoga? An important yogic insight which Indian psychology brings is that the functioning of Manas is not entirely dependent on outer physical senses but can act independently of them. For, as we have said already, in the Indian perception, the senses are in essence the inherent psychological powers or faculties of Manas. The outer physical organs are only the physical instruments created in the body for the corresponding psychological faculties to function through them. So if by some inner discipline these inner psychological senses can be loosened from its dependence on the outer physical instruments they can function independently and with a greater power and effectiveness. These inner senses can comprehend the outer objects with a greater sensitivity and accuracy than when they have to work through the physical instruments in the body. But this essential power of manas, which is not hampered by its physical instruments, is not confined to sensational faculties; it can directly comprehend other minds; This is the source of all para- psychological phenomena like extra-sensory perception (ESP), telepathy etc. which for some time attracted the curiosity of western scientific mind.

This Indian yogic insight into the functions of manas has immense practical application for education and Yoga. One of the major defects of modern education is that virtually no attention is paid to the development of this important faculty of human consciousness. For the human intelligence, Budhi depends to a large extend on the data transmitted by the manas to perform its function.  If the transmission is not accurate or distorted it will hamper the workings of the intelligence. So if the senses can be made more accurate and sensitive and their capacity is enlarged beyond their normal range and power it can enhance the power and capacity of the intelligence by giving it a greater field and range of data to work upon.

The main causes of error and distortion in the functioning of manas are defects in the organs itself or clogging of the nerve channels through which the impressions received by the manas are transmitted to the Budhi. The organic defects have to be rectified by proper medical treatment. The clogging of the nerve channels may be due to the improper functioning of the pranic system or emotional disturbances. This can be remedied by a systemetic practice of chitta-shudhi. We have briefly discussed the principles of chitta-shudhi in our previous article in this section, it will be discussed in greater detail in the section on Rajayoga.

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This entry was posted on June 15, 2013 by in The Foundations.