Jiva or the individualised consciousness, is composed, so to say, of the pure Consciousness – Chit – , which is non-dual, absolute, non-relational, all-pervading and all bliss, and the inner organ, called antahkarana, and the reflection of the Chit in it. The reality in the Jiva is Chit or Consciousness. The rest is avidya, mere appearance.
The Consciousness in the Jiva is called Kutastha, which, in spite of avidya as antahkarana, is ever pure, untouched by any qualities, ever one with the Absolute, Brahman. The reflection, or Abhas, is bound, is identified with the conditioning adjunct, antahkarana.
Avidya, which is modified as antahkarana, has two properties: it conceals the real nature of Kutastha, and makes it appear the opposite of what it really is. The immortal Kutastha, the ever pure, the unrelational, absolute Kutastha appears to Abhas as mortal, suffering, conditioned, bound and so forth.
Some Acharyas indicate the antahkarana by the term Buddhi, this being its chief function. Individuation, the sense of I-ness, separateness, called Ahankara, is the first fruit of Jivahood.
It is an illusion because in the all-pervasive Chit there is no sense of separateness: there cannot be any.
One illusion leads to another. First you see a city in the desert as a mirage, and, if you are not disillusioned you see the roads, buildings, gardens, canals and towers in it. Similarly, the primary error of separateness, “I am”, leads to a thousand others. First comes the sense of individuality; then “I am a man”, “I am a young man”, “I am a Christian”, “I am wise”, and so forth.
The motion in the antahkarana imparted by the animation caused by the ‘heat and light’ (Rajas) of the antahkarana, is perpetual and it breaks forth into vrittis, the units of consciousness. The vrittis make up sansara.
Chidabhas is bound; Chidabhas is freed. This is the drama enacted on the stage of antahkarana, of which Kutastha is a mere witness.
The main vritti is the “I am”. The function of the vritti is to reveal the object. Hunger, anger and other passions are not called vrittis because they do not reveal any object.
The antahkarana is also called Upadhi. Upadhi is that which conceals its substratum and lends it the appearance of what it is not. The Jiva can create a vritti and also modify an existing vritti.
Reality to be real must cease thinking of (imagining) itself as unreal. The vrittis have the same relation to antahkarana as flames have to a fire. To create the pure or sattwic vrittis of goodness, devotion, love of philosophy, or any other which reduces the sense of individuality, is the real life. It thins the veil which hides the Absolute from Chidabhas and creates a sense of freedom and bliss. To create on the antahkarana the vrittis of desire and aversion, the sense of pleasure, possession etc., accentuates the sense of individuality, of separateness and leads to ever increasing illusion, bondage and suffering.
“Ahankara is hell”, says Kabir. In his dealings with his disciples the Teacher does, directly or indirectly, whatever reduces their ahankara. Self-submission to the Guru, to Ishwara, the merging of the sense of individuality in the Sangha, in Bhajan, in the service of man, is to create the real vritti, the life which leads to realisation.
Meditation is impossible without renunciation of ahankara. The highest offering to God, is the offering of your enriched and controlled sense of individuality. The ultimate purpose of the life of Adhyatma Yoga is to create the supreme and paramount vritti: “I am Brahman”. This is Truth and all else is illusion. All that helps the rising of this vritti is good, is a step forward in the field of reality.
“Give up all other talk” says Shruti. Do not fall into fresh snares of attachment. To the ignorant the world is a comedy; to the semi-wise it is a tragedy; to the scholarly it is the unfoldment of the idea of freedom or bliss; to the yogi it is the sport of Chit, as Shri Vasishtha calls it: “O Rama, this sansara is a spontaneous sport of Chit”.