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Sincere Struggle Fortified With Prayer And Japa Will Enable Man Gain Upper Hand Over Unruly Mind

Vedanta says divinity is the core of our personality. When this real ‘I’, the Atman, identifies itself with the mind and the body, we feel we are individuals with distinct identities. In order that any perception becomes possible, the ‘I’ should get connected to buddhi; the buddhi should get linked with manas, the deliberative faculty; the manas should come in contact with the sense organ; and the sense organ should get linked with the sense object.

Both memory and the desire to repeat an action in here in our mental storehouse, called chitta. Though memory and desire are two separate things, they get easily connected in a person who is not wide awake. In most of us, our ‘I’ is identified with the mind and the body; the buddhi is not always awake or alert. When our ‘I’ gets connected to the combined memory and desire, it is really our will (buddhi) that gets linked to them. When the will (energized by the Atman behind  it) gets linked to the desire, harmless images from memory become animated with life, hooking with them the manas, the sense organ and the sense object, making us succumb to the desire. The chain of this enjoyment need not always terminate at the gross level; it could stop at the subtle sense organ and subtle sense object, resulting in enjoyment at the mental level itself.

Desire thus extends from our buddhi through manas to the sense organs, making us blind to our real nature. Says Sri Krishna in the Gita, ‘The sense organs, the mind and the intellect (buddhi) are the seat of desire. Through these it deludes the embodied soul by veiling its wisdom.’

It is the will (the dynamic aspect of buddhi) that starts the downward journey by attaching itself to the desire. This wilful attachment of the will to the desire is what is called sankalpa, resolution. Parenthetically, it may be said that the sankalpa done before a puja has a positive connotation: it is done to consciously connect the wayward will to the act of puja. The famous verse from the Mahabharata underlines the importance of sankalpa in triggering man’s downfall: ‘O desire, I know your root. You spring from will (sankalpa). I shall not tag my will to you. You will then be destroyed with your roots.’

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad describes the connection between desire, will and karma: ‘The Self is identified with desire alone. What it desires, it resolves; as is its resolution, so is its action. And whatever it carries out into action, that it reaps.’  Sri Shankara comments on this passage: ‘Desire manifests itself as longing for a particular object, and, if unchecked, it assumes a more definite shape and becomes resolve.’ During the initial stages of his struggle with his mind, a spiritual aspirant may not always succeed in detaching his will from desire. As long as it is not a wilful action on his part, he need not be unduly worry about his will getting hooked to the subtle sense organ and the subtle sense object. He only needs to strive with greater effort for purity of mind. That is perhaps what Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi meant by saying ‘In this Kali yuga mental sin is no sin.’ The aspirant’s sincere struggle with his mind fortified with prayer and japa will enable him to gradually gain upper hand over his unruly mind.