The reflection theory of Jiva4 min read

Analysis of jiva. Jiva, or the individualized consciousness, is so to say composed of

(i) Pure Consciousness (Chit), which is non-dual, absolute, nonrelational, all-pervading and all-Bliss, and

(2) the sum total of vrittis which make up the antahkarana (the inner organ), and

(3) the reflection of Chit in the antahkarana, called chidabhasa.

What is real in the jiva is Chit or Pure Consciousness : the rest is avidya (nescience) and is mere appearance.

The Pure Consciousness in the jiva is called Kutastha ; in spite of avidya as antahkarana, Kutastha is ever pure, untouched by any qualities, and ever one with the Absolute, Brahman.

The reflection (abhasa) of Pure Consciousness (Chit) feels bound by limitations and suffers because it identifies itself with the conditioning adjunct, antahkarana. Avidya, which is modified as antahkarana, has two properties : it conceals the real nature of Kutastha (avarand), and makes it appear the opposite of what it really is (yikshepa).

The immortal Kutastha, the ever pure, non-relational, absolute Kutastha appears to the abhasa as mortal, subject to suffering, conditioned, bound and so forth.

Ahankara. Individuation, the sense of I-ness or separateness, called ahankara is the first fruit of the condition of jiva. It is an illusion because in the all-pervasive Consciousness (Chit) there is no sense of separateness*; there cannot be one. One illusion leads to another. First you see a city in the desert as a mirage ; then, 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 youth ”, “ I am a Christian ”, “ I am wise ” and so forth.

In the empirical sense, the idea of “ I ” expresses a synthetic unity of apperception. It is merely a reflex and is not the sum total of the psychic states. It is the integrating and unifying principle which is apparent as a psychological continuity through all the mental changes. This ahankara, the little ego, is a metaphysical unity which is neither completely unreal nor absolutely real. It is not completely unreal in that it possesses pragmatic and scientific reality, but it is not transcendent Reality.

Vritti. The motion in the mind (.antahkarana) imparted by the animation caused by the * heat and light ’ (rajas) of the antahkarana, is perpetual and breaks forth into vrittis, the units of consciousness. The vrittis make up the world (sans add).

Reality, to be real, must cease imagining Itself to be unreal. “ Chidabhasa is bound : chidabhasa is freed ” is a drama enacted on the stage of antahkarana of which Kutastha is a mere witness. Antahkarana is also called ‘ upadhi ’, * upadhi ’ being that which conceals its substratum and lends it the appearance of what it is not.’ The vrittis have the same relationship to antahkarana as flames have to a fire. The main vritti is the “ I am ” and the main 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 jiva can create a vritti and also modify an existing vritti. To create the pure (‘sattwic) vrittis of virtue, devotion, love of philosophy, or any other which reduces the sense of individuality, is real life. It thins the veil which hides the Absolute from chidabhasa, and creates a sense of unalloyed freedom and bliss.

To create in the antahkarana the vrittis of desire and aversion, passion, fanaticism, the sense of pleasure of possession, accentuates the sense of individuality and separateness and leads to ever increasing illusion, bondage and suffering. The ultimate purpose of a 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 to be welcomed as a step forward towards Reality.

Short comparison with other theories. According to Abhasavada, the jiva is merely a reflection of Consciousness (Chit) : it has a purely psychological appearance and no reality in the true sense. Avacchedavada declares the jiva to be a modification of the Absolute Consciousness— Consciousness circumscribed by avidya. As transcendent Consciousness it has reality, but avidya (nescience), the limiting force, as it were grafts on it the identity of a divided- and limited consciousness.

Prakashatman Muni held a doctrine of “ reflection ” according to which the reflection is false but what appears as reflection is true. This theory is called Pratibimbavada and is not very different from the Abhasavada of Swami Vidyaranya. Brahmananda Swami in his Ratnavali says that in Abhasavada the immanent aspect of Absolute Consciousness is false when compared to the transcendental aspect ; in Pratibimbavada the immanent aspect is quite as true as the transcendental, both being the same but appearing as different.

The holy Acharyas have devoted thousands of pages to the discussion of these theories.