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Making And Breaking Of Delusion In Hinduism – Cutting The Knot Of Ignorance

Chitta (mind) is transparent like a clean crystal. The objects of the world can be reflected in it but only when there is the light of consciousness. In utter darkness no crystal or mirror can reflect anything and so is the case of unconscious mind (jada chitta) also, without the reflection of purusha or self in it. It is the light of consciousness of the self in whose presence other objects also can get reflected in chitta.

Chitta, being agile and fluctuating, can act only when it is illuminated by the consciousness of purusha. This inevitable presence of the reflection of the self in chitta creates the confusion about who really operates, the self.  

When the sun rays are reflected in a pond or a bucket of water, it appears fluctuating when the water in the utensil fluctuates due to some disturbance, and consequently the rays appear blue, yellow, green, etc., if that color is dissolved in the water. But actually the sun in the sky neither fluctuates nor becomes blue, yellow or green. It is unaffected by the deviations or changes taking place in the pond or bucket of water; but the image of the sun reflected in various sources of water appears to be undergoing the respective changes.

Similarly, the unchangeable conscious purusha who is only the witness remains unaffected, but its reflection in chitta appears to be involved in the activities which are actually fluctuations in the mind. The reflections of purusha or the absolute conscious being in numerous chittas are known as jivas or selves, who mistakenly identify themselves with the corresponding chitta and feel to be in the bondage of karma (actions)and karmphala (fruit of action) or vipakasaya. Thus the one indivisible absolute exists as if it is divided into many – avibhakam ca bhuteshu vibhaktamiva ca shitam (Bhagavad Gita 13/16).

Through this indirect way, non-doer self becomes enjoyer of pleasures and pains produced by prakriti through indriya (organs of senses and actions) and the fluctuations of chitta.

This enjoyer and the objects of enjoyment, or seer and seen relationship between the conscious purusha and the derivatives of unconscious prakriti is called avidyagranthi – the knot of ignorance. Because this apparent bond between the conscious and the unconscious is due to ignorance. In other words, the witness falsely believes itself to be irrevocably tied to the objects of its perception. Due to ignorance, the witness does not recognize its true nature.

The role of yoga is to remove such ignorance by bringing in the true knowledge and reality of the self as infinite pure conscious being. In Yoga philosophy, this knowledge is known as knowledge of discernment, which illuminates the real being of the conscious self as distinct from the unconscious prakriti. As the practitioner of yoga advances through various savikalpa samadhis towards perfection, the intellect gets fully oriented towards the whole truth culminating in the rise of vivekakhyati. In the process, the curtains of dirt which had covered the consciousness of the individual gets washed off. As a result, a yogi attains dharmamegha Samadhi and thereby, knowledge having become infinite, the knowable is criticized in its comparison (yogaustra 4/31).

In fact, the feeling of individuality itself is the result of curtain of illusion over pure consciousness. On removal of that illusion, the individual self is no more apart from the universal consciousness or purusha. The overall pure consciousness is one, or rather non-dual, infinite, omnipresent, and omniscient. By successful practice of Yoga or gain of true knowledge, the witness is able to see its real being, the avidyagranthi or knot of ignorance gets broken, all doubts are removed and its actions are destroyed. That is moksha (emancipation). Patanjali calls it svarupevasthanam (installation in its own true form) or kaivalya.