[Advaita-l] Re: A doubt on certain terms used in gItA and other works

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Wed May 4 16:40:14 CDT 2005

>is there any difference between words like
>antaHkaraNa.m, chitta.m, manas or are they all the
>i would also like to know the differences and
>similarities between terms like buddhi, vij~nAnam,
>manas etc.

In the gItA itself, manas and buddhi are used distinctly. SankarAchArya also 
refers to these two as the antaHkaraNa-dvaya (the two-fold internal organ), 
in upadeSasAhasrI, kenopaniShat commentary etc. In the yogasUtra, buddhi is 
not used significantly, the terms preferred being chitta and manas. 
antaHkaraNa is more vedAntic in its usage and is sometimes used 
interchangeably with other words, e.g. manas, hR^idaya, hR^it, chitta and 
buddhi. The antaHkaraNa interacts with the physical sense organs, processes 
their input and takes action on them. The context usually makes it clear 
whether the general "internal organ" or a specific faculty such as manas or 
buddhi are intended.

The distinction is that manas is the faculty of intention (sa.mkalpa), 
imagination (vikalpa) and doubt (sa.mSaya), whereas buddhi is the faculty of 
determination (adhyavasAya) and conclusion (niScaya). chitta, derived from 
chit (consciousness), is typically used in a relational sense, in the 
context of how the human being interacts with external objects. Therefore, 
erroneous perception is in the realm of the manas, whereas right perception 
is buddhi, which is therefore often used along with viGYAna. In both types 
of perception, relational consciousness is involved. For example, in the 
rope-snake analogy, the doubt whether the object is a snake and the 
consequent fear are due to manas, while the determination "this is a rope, 
not a snake" involves buddhi.

In later works, (I think especially in the vivaraNa school, see 
dharamarAja's vedAnta-paribhAShA), antaHkaraNa is considered to be 
four-fold, consisting of manas, buddhi, chitta and aha.mkAra. The last is, 
of course, the I-sense, generally translated as ego. This four-fold 
designation has its origin in the mANDUkya upaniShat, kArikAs and their 
commentary. The term ekonavi.mSatimukha in this text is interpreted as the 
individual possessing the five sense-organs (GYAna indriya-s), five action 
organs (karma indriya-s), five prANa-s, manas, buddhi, chitta and aha.mkAra. 
Another term used is saptadaSaka-liN^ga, i.e. seventeen-limbed, where chitta 
and aha.mkAra are not counted separately. This is found in bR^ihadAraNyaka 
bhAShya and sureSvara's vArttika thereon, as also in the prakaraNa text, 

Sadananda's vedAntasAra clarifies that the numbers 17 and 19 can be 
reconciled, as the manas and buddhi need to be distinguished whereas chitta 
and aha.mkAra do not always need to be counted separately.


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