Question 199/200 What is Chitta,
What is Atmaswaroop

Sunset on Ganges river at Varanasi The young Rama is confused as the word chitta has so many other words, synonyms, like this. What is the meaning of all these words for consciousness? Upon explanation, Rama asks more, the nature of attaining atmaswaroop … … the essential form of all that is.

chitta: individual consciousness
chitta: chitta San. noun. the mind (the seat of understanding and awareness, of intellect and will); memory, thought, reflection; the soul, heart. It is the individual consciousness, composed of intelligence and intellect (buddhi), ego (ahamkara) and mind (manas). In Vedanta, chitta is one aspect of Universal Consciousness (chit). The world hangs on the thread of consciousness – without consciousness, there is no world.

akash: San. m., n. (ambara) sky, space, an expanse; the element of ether, the subtlest form of matter. Space gives things form and keeps them discrete. Its quality is sound. ‘It is through space that sounds are transmitted and heard. Love and play are products of akasha and seeds sprout on account of akasha.’ ‘Akasha pervades the cosmos but remains unstained.’ (BG: 23:32)

tattva San. n. ‘thatness’ – real nature, essence, principle; truth, reality, the Absolute (brahman); one of the five elements; the chemical elements.

vasana: tendencies or desires
nirvasana desirelessness

atmaswaroop: cf. atmaswarupa; Consciousness, the Self, original nature, our true essential nature. (embodiment, form of the Atma)

moksha: liberation, for salvation, and of liberation, liberation from material bondage

sayujya (saayujya). Union, merger with the Divine.
sayujya-mukthi (saayujya-mukthi). Union-with-God liberation.


Question 199: Sir, why have so many names have been ascribed to the one chitta?

Answer: Ramji, there is only one Paramatma-tattva. Just as it is water only which assumes different names such as ocean, river, pond, stream, etc so also jiva, chitta, mind, etc are different names for the same Atma. Atma is non-dual in itself, but manifests differently because of modifications or the arousal of ideation. Just as water is seen variously as bubbles, waves and tides, but it is water in all these states, so is Atma cognised universally in all objects. When ideation becomes extinct in a jiva, then the pure Atma is experienced vividly, but when a jiva is in a state of ignorance, the same Atma is cognised with names and forms.

Because of ego, it is cognised with different names such as intelligence, mind, chitta, etc. That which is in-between the states of being and non-being of the objects, is Paramatma-tattva and it is this tattva that is cognised variously. So many names have been imagined for this mind. As long as chitta modifications occur with body-ego, the illusion of the manifest universe with names and forms does not vanish. With the extinction of the chitta, the universe with its multiplicity of names and forms also vanishes. In no case, however, does Atma become extinct. It is always self- independent.

Ramji, when the body of a jiva whose chitta is free from vasana, is cast away, his chitta merges in the akash of consciousness. But the chitta containing vasana assumes another body after abandoning one. Therefore, realising the universe as an illusion you abandon its vasana and be established in your Atmaswaroop (essential nature of the Atma).

Question 200: Sir, what attitude of the mind helps in the realisation of Atmaswaroop?

Answer: Ramji, he who understands the world as unreal and is ceaselessly engaged in spiritual discipline with full faith, attains Atmaswaroop without fail. The other attitude is I am everything – the akash, directions, the sun, gods, demons, darkness, light, clouds, hills, earth, oceans, air, water, the entire sentient and insentient universe – and nothing exists but me. When, as a result of intense practice you have this firm attitude, then you will cognise the entire universe as your Atmaswaroop, which is the source of supreme bliss, and you will also not be subject to joy or sorrow. This state is realised when a jiva is relieved of ego.


Bhaktha: What does Moksha mean exactly, Swami? And what is Mukthi?
Swami: Both mean the same. That which is burdened with the Manas is the Jivi; when the Manas and the Nama and Rupa which it spins from out of its substance, are destroyed, then the Jivi attains Moksha. Then it becomes one with Brahmam; that is Moksha. When the Ganga or the Godavari reach the sea, their separate names, forms, tastes and limits all disappear and they acquire the name, form, taste and limit of the sea itself.

Until the Jivas attain the end of the mind, they bear the Nama, Rupa and the Ruchi of delusion, myness and I-ness; when the Jivi nears the sea, these characteristics begin to disappear slowly; when the Gunas as well as the mutations of the mind are destroyed, then one can say that union has been accomplished with Brahmam. How can the Ganga which has merged with the ocean be sweet? If it is said that one has merged in Brahmam, he should not have the three Gunas, nor any taste of Manas. Such full union is known as Sayujyamukthi.

Bhaktha: O, how grand, Swami. Bless every one to attain that union; then the world will really be happy.
Swami: What? For Me to bless so would be to go against the freedom you are endowed with. Take up the Sadhana prescribed for winning that blessing; gain the blessing by effort, that is the way. It is not something that is given away. You do not pray to the sun to make the rays fall on you, do you? Shining is His nature; He is doing it always. Remove the obstacles between you and the sun and the rays are on you. So too, keeping the obstacles of delusion, myness and I-ness between you and the rays of grace, what is the use of complaining that they do not fall on you? What can the rays do?

Bhaktha: That is as good as saying that we must remove all traces of I-ness and myness from our minds.
Swami: Why do you say, “As good as saying?” I am saying it emphatically, over and over again. If you seek the rays of grace, try and remove the obstacles. Remember, even if you do not strive for it now, you will feel the urge some time later; you cannot escape that urge. It has to happen some day, this shuffling off the coils of delusion. Why postpone the day of joy, the day of liberation? Strive for this from this very day, nay, this very minute. You may leave now, my boy. But come again. I must tell you one more thing. Do not go to extremes; be steady; be patient.

Sandeha Nivarini Dialogue IX


Ganges river at Varanasi


Hamsa Gayatri
Om Hamsaaya Vidmahe
Paramahamsaya Dheemahi
Tanno Hamsa Prachodayat

“May we realise Hamsa that is our own Self as the Swan. Let us meditate on that Paramahamsa, the Supreme Self. May Hamsa illumine us.”

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Hiroki Ogawa, Pixabay/Daehwan Koo