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)

The Budhi: Intelligent Will-M.S. Srinivasan

BudhiWe have discussed so far three major powers of the human psychological apparatus: Chitta, Manas and Prana and their function and role in Yoga. The fourth is Budhi which is normally translated as intellect. But the Indian term includes the faculty of intelligence and the faculty of will, or in other words, Budhi in the Indian conception is not only intelligence but also will, or in short Intelligent will.

The Driver of the Human Chariot

Budhi is the highest evolved power in our present condition of our evolution.  There is an element of Chitta in the plants; it. develops into the vital- sensational mind, manas in the animals and evolves further and becomes the splendour of self-conscious rational intelligence and will, Budhi in man. The main functions of Budhi are reasoning, understanding, discrimination, judgment and conscious choice and persistence in the choice and finally the government of other lower powers of the human consciousness.

One of the well-known and frequently repeated images in Indian scriptures is the symbol of human life as a journey in the chariot; with body as the chariot, mind and senses, manas and the indiriyas, as the horses; Budhi as the charioteer; the spirit and soul as the master of the chariot.

The Witness and the Master

An important capacity of the Budhi which the other lower psychological faculties in man do not possess is the capacity to detach itself from the activities of its own energy and also from that of other lower faculties and observe them as a detached witness.  The faculty of Budhi has this capacity to detach itself not only from the activities of the lower powers like the instincts, sensations and emotions of the chitta-manas and the impulses and desires of the life-force, prana, but also from its own thoughts and perceptions. We have already discussed the purusha-prakrithi concept in Indian philosophy. It is in Budhi, the self-conscious Intelligence in man this philosophic idea becomes a practical, experiential and psychological reality which can be experimentally verified in our subjective being by anyone who is willing to make the experiment.

We have also discussed in our earlier article the innovative metaphysical extension made by Githa to the Sankhya concept of purusha and prakrithi. The purusha according to the Githa is not merely a witness, sakshi but also anumantha sanctioner, knowing lord and master Ishwara, and the bhaktha, the enjoyer of prakrithi.  This idea of the Githa can also be tested and verified in our psychological experience. We have seen that Budhi is not only the light of understanding or intelligence but also the power of conscious will. So, the Purusha, conscious being poised in or acting through the Budhi can not only be an understanding, observing and uninvolved witness, but can also, by the power of will, acquire psychological control and mastery over prakrithi.

This meta-psychological insight of Indian yoga may not be apparent to us as long as we live in our superficial surface self.  But all those who have pursued some form of self-discipline and tried to live the inner life might have had some glimpse or experience of these psychological capacities of our inner being for detachment and mastery. And those spiritual seekers and yogis who are advanced on the path have discovered that this detachment can be complete and perfect or in other words they can entirely detach their inner being from the outer physical and psychological machinery and watch it as something not belonging to them.

This capacity of the purusha, through the Budhi, to detach itself from its prakrithi is used and perfected into a potent force for spiritual liberation in the discipline of the Indian jnana yoga, or yoga of knowledge. In this path of yoga, the faculty of Budhi is, trained, purified and disciplined for deep and subtle thinking and then used as an instrument for spiritual liberation through a double process of disidentification and self-identification. The purusha through the Budhi disidentifies from the body, life and mind and at the same reidentifies with its true nature as the infinite and eternal self. The actual process of Gnana Yoga will be discussed in detail elsewhere.

It is relatively easier to have some experiential verification and understanding of the Sankhya’s insight into the power of detachment of the Purusha over Prakrithi and its reflection in the Budhi. But it is more difficult to experience the Githa’s insight of the power of mastery of the Purusha over Prakrithi and its reflection in the Budhi. This is because, first of all, the total self-mastery of the Purusha over Prakrithi is possible only in the deepest self or spirit or soul of man. In the lower level, only a relative and partial mastery is possible. The second reason for the greater difficulty is that long standing habits of nature resist with obstinacy and violence every attempt to change, control or master their movements. So the withdrawal of consent of the mental Purusha to prakvithi’s movements may not have any immediate effect. It may sometimes even produce contrary reactions in the form of violent revolts against the controlling will of the Purusha. But if the will is sincere and persistent, it prevails over the resistances of Nature and she begins to change with whatever reluctance, delay, relapse and revolt. In Yoga, this Purusha’s mastery over Prakrithis is effected through the pressure of a luminous spiritual idea on the prakrithi, transmitted through the Budhi, dictating to her a new harmony of values and compelling her to change in this direction indicated by the Purusha. But this cannot be done effectively by the power rational intelligence alone. And this brings us to another important psychological insight of Indian Yoga.

The Higher and Lower Budhi

Indian Yogic psychology distinguishes between two types or levels of Budhi — the lower Budhi which is logical, discursive and analytical and the higher Budhi which is intuitive, synthetic and holistic. The other important distinction between the lower and higher Budhi is the greater harmony between knowledge and will in the later. In the lower logical Budhi the knowledge and will are in perpetual conflict and the development of one aspect of the Budhi, in knowledge or will, leads to a diminution or deprivation in the powers and functioning of the other. But in the higher intuitive Budhi this limitation disappears and the capacity for harmonious development and functioning of knowledge and will manifests progressively as this higher faculty becomes consciously active in man. It is this higher intuitive Budhi and not the lower logical intelligence which is or must be the leader in the path of Yoga.

One comment on “The Budhi: Intelligent Will-M.S. Srinivasan

  1. Peter
    June 18, 2015

    Ancient Indians, called Hindus’,relating them with Indu’ that is Moon, perahps because they were relatively advanced astronomers and had realised and developed correlation between the infinite unending universal void and temporary human being, as its model/ image, represented through selected nine numbers members (from Sun that is Brahma the creator as the sole source of fire’ that is energy in the system to the ring-planet Saturn as the most evolved member that represents the mythical Lord Vishnu the sudershan-chakra dhari’) of our solar system, as its essence, that all go into sustenance of the variety of physical forms on Earth the Mrityulok or the heavenly body where death of all life forms is inevitable (Shiva the Destroyer of the mythology with Moon representing Parvati as the source of Amrit’ that is essence in the form of life-giving water to the variety of temporary life forms that exists here since eternity)…Like the ancient Hindus apparently had realised it, scientists’ in the present also have realised macrocosm and microcosm to function in a similar manner in Nature’,,, thus the flame of a candle could be visualised to function similarly to our Sun as its model: act primarily as a source for dispelling darkness, Tamaso ma jyotirgammaya… or Lead the kindly light.. etc,,, and just as one knows that our sun is responsible for the eternal water-cycle on earth thanks to the functions performed by the so-called five basic elements, earth, water, air, land, and sky (that is space), hot air moves upwards while its place is taken by relatively cooler air in the surrounding space, and the flame also ever remains upwards, even when the candle is inverted, that is symbolic of the lower-most level of hierarchy, one can also read the message in it for us humans: to raise the soul (energy within) upwards, from obviously sme lower rung of hierarchy in human form to Shiva the immortal’s level, or the highest possible level…

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This entry was posted on September 25, 2013 by in The Foundations.