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Well, when we are going through a certain phase in our life, where we have to make a decision but we are unsure of what is correct & what is wrong; normally, we have two directions/instructions to follow, one from our brain and the other from our heart. So, the question arises which one is supreme & correct guide, and why?

Mann -> Mind & Budhdhi -> Brain

I would like to cite a simple example here:

You go for shopping right?

  • Mann -> buy this buy that
  • Budhdhi -> before buying check your budget
  • Mann -> No worries I'll use Credit Card
  • Budhdhi -> Who will pay Credit Card bills?

So, a simple decision making process in a way shows which one is a better guide. Maybe that's the reason brain (budhdhi) is placed above heart (mann) in a human body!

Some say listen to your Atman, but question is how is that message passed on to the person, through Mann or Budhdhi or some other means?

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    None Scriptures (vedas) are the best guide, because both brain and heart(manas) are ignorant and need training to get into sattva. – Yogi Sep 8 '17 at 14:16
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    "Brain" (Dimaag) & "Heart"(Dil) are western or modern terminologies. If you meant Mann & Buddhi or something else (e.g. logic vs conscience), then that update in the Qn will be more helpful. – iammilind Sep 8 '17 at 14:30
  • @iammilind yeah I meant Mann & Buddhi , will update my question. – Just_Do_It Sep 8 '17 at 14:42
  • Hindu approach to this dilemma is to learn first from the Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavad gita, etc, what is right and wrong, and how to conduct our life, etc, and then to make decisions in life. So neither mind nor brain should be a guide but knowledge, ie Vedic wisdom. Some Hindus become followers of some tradition and take a guru who can be also your guide. There is yet another approach often neglected by people unfortunately, it's praying to God to show us the true path in life. I explained that with the quotations from the Gita at hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/11546/2790 – brahma jijnasa Sep 8 '17 at 20:52
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    According to Sankhya, Buddhi holds a higher status than Manas, because Manas controls the senses, while Buddhi controls the mind. But scriptures are higher than Buddhi because they tell you what's good and what's bad beyond your limited knowledge or experiences. – ram Sep 10 '17 at 0:26
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Neither. One should rely on scripture in making decisions. While the brain/mind/heart may produce all sorts of beliefs about morality, i.e. what one should do and should not do, the sole source of knowledge of morality is scripture. Here is what Adi Shankaracharya says in his commentary on the Brahma Sutras, while discussing animal sacrifice:

[The reasoning criticizing animal sacrifice] is not valid, because our knowledge of what is duty and the contrary of duty depends entirely on scripture. The knowledge of one action being right and another wrong is based on scripture only; for it lies out of the cognizance of the senses, and there moreover is, in the case of right and wrong, an entire want of binding rules as to place, time, and occasion. What in one place, at one time, on one occasion is performed as a right action, is a wrong action in another place, at another time, on another occasion; none therefore can know, without scripture, what is either right or wrong.

For a more systematic look at things, we must turn to the Purva Mimamsa Sutras, since they analyze the part of the Vedas which deal with Dharma. Here is what Jaimini says in Adhyaya 1 Pada 1 Sutra 4 of the Purva Mimamsa Sutras:

satsaṃprayoge puruṣasyendriyāṇāṃ buddhijanma tatpratyakṣamanimitrta vidyamānopalambhanatvāt

That cognition by a person which appears when there is contact of the sense-organs is "sense-perception", and it is not a means (of knowing Dharma), as it apprehends only things existing at the present time.

And here is what Shabaraswami says in his commentary on this Sutra:

The examination (promised in the preceding Sutra) is as follows:- Sense. perception is not the means (of knowing Dharma), - why?- because the character of Sense-perception is that it is "that cognition by a person, etc."(sutra); that is, it is that cognition which a man has when his sense-organs are in contact with the object cognised. - Dharma however is something that is yet to come, and it does not exist at the time that it is to be known; - while Sense-perception is the apprehending of an object that is actually present and not non-existent at the time (of cognition); - hence Sense-perception cannot be the means (of knowing Dharma). In the Sutra, no stress is meant to be laid upon either "cognition", or the "appearance", or upon mere "contact"; the only factor meant to be emphasised is the fact of its being such as is possible only when there is contact between the sense-organ and the object, and not when there is no such contact between them. If stress were laid upon several factors, then there would be syntactical split. As for (the other means of Cognition.) Inference, Analogy, and Apparent Inconsistency, these also presuppose (are based upon) Sense-perception; hence these also cannot be the means (of knowing Dharma). Nor can Dharma be amenable to “Negation' (i.e. it cannot be regarded as non-existent; because of the reason given in the next Sutra which indicates the real means of knowing Dharma).

The idea is that the ordinary means by which we acquire knowledge about the world, namely Pratyaksha or perception and Anumana or inference, are powerless to tell us anything about morality. That's because they can only tell us about the world of things which already exist, whereas morality pertains to that which does not yet exist, namely the consequences you will experience for the actions you do. But what kind of means of knowledge can tell us what actions are linked to what kind of consequence? Jaimini tells us the answer in Adhyaya 1 Pada 1 Sutra 5 of the Purva Mimamsa Sutras:

otpattikastu śabdāsyārthenasambandhastasya jñānamupadeśo'vyatirekaścāyeṃ'nupalabdhe tatpramāem̐ bādarāyaṇasyānapekṣatvāt

The relation of the word with its denotation is inborn.- [Vedic] instruction is the means of knowing it (Dharma) - infallible regarding all that is imperceptible; it is a valid means of knowledge, as it is independent, according to Badarayana.

The idea is that the human brain/mind/heart is powerless to find out what is right or wrong, since as I discussed above morality concerns that which does not yet exist, but the Vedas, since they are Apaurusheya or authorless, have the capacity to talk about the imperceptible realm, since they do not depend on the knowledge of a human being. (The authoritativeness of Smriti is derived from the authoritativeness of the Vedas in Adhyaya 1 Pada 3 of the Purva Mimamsa Sutras.)

Now how do we know that the Vedas actually are authorless and authoritative? For that I would refer you to Shabara's commentary on the above Sutra and the subsequent Sutras of Adhyaya 1 Pada 1 of the Purva Mimamsa Sutras. (And if you find it too difficult to understand, I may one day write a book on it; see idea #1 in my Medium post here.)

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    Can you please elaborate on this part "One should rely on scripture in making decisions" ... I mean how does a common man understand scriptures before taking or making decisions? – Just_Do_It Sep 8 '17 at 17:58
  • @Just_Do_It I think you'll find that understanding scriptures isn't as difficult as you might think, especially with the help of a guru. – Keshav Srinivasan Sep 9 '17 at 13:05
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As per VedAnta.

Actually you have already answered in your Qn.

In a way there is no competition or comparison between Mann & Buddhi. It's like employee & boss respectively.
From scriptures, Buddhi is beyond Mann at absolute level.

BG 3.42 — Senses are said to be beyond (to body), Mind is beyond Senses, Intellect (Buddhi) is even beyond Mind (Mann), "That" (Atma) is even beyond Intellect.

Here is the detailed differentiation between them:
What is the difference between Buddhi (बुद्धि) and Mann (मन)?

Though Buddhi is beyond Mann, Buddhi in itself is not the righteous. Depending on Sattva, Rajas, Tamas, one takes right (Dharma), wrong (Adharma), weird (Vidharma) decisions:

BG 18.30 — The one who knows activity & retirement, duty & non-duty, fear & boldness and bonding & liberation properly, has SAtvika Buddhi.
BG 18.31 — The one who doesn't know Dharma & Adharma, duty & non-duty as it is, has RAjasi Buddhi.
BG 18.32 — Covered by darkness (Tamas), the one who believes Adharma as Dharma and believes other (thing)s also wrongly, has TAmasi Buddhi.

From your example (a perspective only),

  • under Sattva a person may not buy something beyond capabilities,
  • under Rajas a person would try to stretch his/her capabilities to gratify senses,
  • under Tamas a person will buy without worrying about credit dues.

However when the influence of Sattva would fall upon a person, -- is not controllable, or rather it's destined.

  • Well some say listen to your Atman, but question is how is that message passed on to the person, through Mann or Budhdhi or some other means? – Just_Do_It Sep 11 '17 at 12:53
  • @Just_Do_It, though Atma is superior to Buddhi, it's not something to be listened. Atma is beyond existent and non-existent and it's in oneness. i.e. everyone's Atman is same, which we can call it as Nirguna Brahman as well. Hence in the material world the last phase is Buddhi. Depending on the type of [SAtvika, RAjasika, TAmasika] Buddhi -- one takes the decisions. Here mind probably act as an executioner of what Buddhi says. – iammilind Sep 11 '17 at 13:29
  • So as per your explanation term 'Antar Atma' means the 'Nirguna Brahman' ... please correct me if am wrong here. – Just_Do_It Sep 11 '17 at 13:41
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    @Just_Do_It, yes Atma or Antar Atma or Param Atma are same only (like how Krishna & Shree Krishna are same). The meaning of Atma is self. That is said to be beyond "existent" and "non-existent", hence it's very difficult to realise with senses, which are physical. Hence the last stage of Prakruti is Buddhi. Beyond Prakruti, it's all Atma ("Me"). When Atma interacts with Prakruti, it generates Purusha. Purusha can also be equated with Buddhi, as explained in linked answer above. – iammilind Sep 11 '17 at 13:46
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    @Just_Do_It, many people call them same. i.e. "Mann = Dil". That in turn makes "Mann = Heart", that makes "Mind = Heart" and that's confusing. That's why this terminologies, should not be used interchangeably. :-) These seems as little subjective terms. – iammilind Sep 11 '17 at 14:18
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Considering Upanishad as Vedas. Intellect (Buddhi) is superior to the mind (mana). From Katha Upanishad.

'Beyond the senses there are the objects, beyond the objects there is the mind, beyond the mind there is the intellect, the Great Self is beyond the intellect.' 3.10

Note: There is similar verse in Bhagwat Geeta as well which says the same.

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    I think this is what Lord Krishna tried to convey to Arjuna when the latter said 'Mann' not allowing me to fight against my own brothers/relatives – Just_Do_It Sep 8 '17 at 18:35
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See the image below. Please ignore the terms you do not understand. And I'll add that this answer is not according to Vedas (Maybe it is. I have not verified.).

enter image description here

Mann / Mun is the most superficial rung to make the decisions from. Buddhi is the second best rung to take decisions from.

Thus, it is better to take decisions from buddhi than from mann.

But the decisions that will stick, even over to the next life, are those that come from realization... in other words, those that come from Aatma.

  • Can you mention source of that image? – The Destroyer Sep 8 '17 at 17:33
  • Hello @TheDestroyer. There is no point in mentioning the source. Another answer of mine was deleted after providing the source - without any verification whether the answer was right or wrong. I am fine if this answer is deleted or voted down for lack of references. – displayName Sep 8 '17 at 17:36
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    @displayName the image appears interesting but how do we confirm if the order is correct or not? Are there any firm references of this order? – Just_Do_It Sep 8 '17 at 17:49
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    @displayName On religious sites, no way a user can verify content without source. On SO, we can check whether code compiles or executes. But on religious sites, source is the only way we can verify. – The Destroyer Sep 8 '17 at 17:55
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    @TheDestroyer: Is there any verification that what's mentioned in the book is indeed correct? No offense intended. Blind faith in books, without looking into ourselves, is useless and in extreme cases it is harmful. The ultimate verification is within ourselves. Books are only a guide to self-verification. Two people interpret the same text of a book differently. – displayName Sep 8 '17 at 18:00

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