In Patanjali's 'Chittavarttinirodhah', the term chitta was taken as manas and meant mind and the whole tread was devoted to understanding the human mind. Most recent works use manas and chitta interchangeably. Vivekananda used manas as mind and chitta to mean mind stuff. I find mostly people saying that antahkarana being formed of manas, buddhi and ahankara but shri Sankara's take on antahkarana is that it is formed of chitta, manas, buddhi and ahankara. Any body - please explain to me the difference between manas and chitta. The mind stuff is difficult to comprehend.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Jun 19, 2018 at 14:36
  • What do you mean by the word receptable, if i may ask? According to merriam dictionary , it means to collect & contain, which can give rise to confusion. The job of collecting is that of manas and that of containing is that of chitta, as per vedanta, in both ordinary and advanced beings. Jun 19, 2018 at 14:48
  • Just as money is different from a bank, Chitta is differerent from Manas which is a kendra it can also make ahankara and buddhi among others as its products.
    – Narasimham
    Jun 22, 2018 at 10:51
  • 'Chitta vritti nirodaha' is originally from shandilya upanishat. Most of the things patanjali mentions in his sutra r already there in shandilya up. Nd other vedantic scriptures. In Brihdaranyak up. Bhashya shankaracharya explain hw these tarkiks like mimamsakas, naiyyayikas etc hv actually taken things from upanishads only Jul 5, 2018 at 15:47

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In colloquial usages, both Manas and Chitta are used to mean the same thing - the mind. But there is subtle difference between the two.

In Upanishads too, both terms are used to mean different things. One such clear example is ChAndagyo Upanishad (CU) 7.1 where SanatkumAra (the Guru) is imparting a knowledge called BhumA VidyA to his disciple NArada.

The 1st instruction is to worship Brahman as names/nomenclatures (NAmabrahma). 2nd instruction is to worship VAk or speech as Brahman, 3rd is to worship Mana (mind) as Brahman, 4th is to worship Samkalpa (resolve or will) as Brahman, 5th is to worship Chitta as the Brahman and etc.

The verses for Mana are as follows:

Mano vAv vAcho bhuyo yathA vai dve vAmalke dve va kole dvau vAhakshau
mushtiranubhavatevyam vAcham cha nAma cha manohanubhavati ....
mano hyAtmA mano hi loko mano hi brahma mana upAssveti ||

Beyond speech, and superior to speech, is the mind. Here is glorification of the functions of the mind, the capacity of the mind. Mind is superior, naturally, because unless the mind functions well, there would be no speech, no nomenclature and no learning. “Just as,” says Sanatkumara, “two small fruits like mulberry or berry can held together in the fist of the hand, just as the palm of one’s hand folded contains within its fold two small fruits or objects, so does the mind contain within itself both speech and name.” Speech and name are contained within the mind. This is the power of the mind. Whatever we do, we do only through the mind. We know it very well. We think first before we express ourselves in speech or utter a name. We think, “Let me do work,” and then we start working. We think, “Let me have this, and let me have that,” and then we put forth effort in that direction. We begin to perform various types of actions in this world, after thinking first. So, thinking is prior to every other deed or effort ...

CU 7.3.1

And verses for Chitta are as follows:

Chittam vAva samkalpAbhuyo yadA vai chetayatehatha samkalpayatehatha
manasyatyatha vAchamirayati tAmu nAmnirayati nAmni mantrA ekam bhavanti mantreshu karmAni ||

Compared to Samkalpa, Chitta is surely better [to worship as Brahman]. Because, first one becomes aware of something only then he resolves and thereafter he thinks. And, then he employs the speech. And, at last, directs the speech to pronunciation or chanting of the names (NAma). The Mantras get unified in names/nomenclatures and the actions get unified in the Mantras.

Here, all the succeeding forms of worship are mentioned to be as superior to the form that precedes them.

Therefore, worshipping NAmabrahman is inferior to worshipping VAgBrahman. Again worshipping VAgbrahman is inferior to worshipping Manobrahman. Similarly, worshipping Manobrahman is inferior to worshipping Samkalpabrahman and which again is inferior to worship of Chittabrahman and so on.

So, going by this order, Chitta is superior to Manas.

Chitta is to be understood (roughly) as memory or power of retention where as Manas is simply thinking. And both are part of the Antahkarana.

To get further clarification you can go through the following passage from the Devi BhAgavata PurAna which is describing the process of "Panchikarana":

The process is now being stated :-- O Girijâ! Each of the five original elements is divided into two parts; one part of each of which is subdivided into four parts. This fourth part of each is united with the half of four other elements different from it and thus each gross element is formed. By these five gross elements, the Cosmic (Virât) body is formed and this is called the Gross Body of the God. Jñânendriyas (the organs of knowledge) arise from Sattva Gunas of each of these five elements. Again the Sattva Gunas of each of the Jñânendriyas united become the Antah Karanâni. This Antah karana is of four kinds, according as its functions vary. When it is engaged in forming Sankalpas, resolves, and Vikalpas (doubts) it is called "mind." When it is free from doubts and when it arrives at the decisive conclusion, it is called "Chitta"; and when it rests simply on itself in the shape of the feeling "I", it is called Ahamkâra. From the Rajo Guna of each of the five elements arises Vâk (speech), Pâni (hands) Pâda (feet), Pâyu (Anus) and Upastha (organs of generation). Again their Rajo parts united give rise to the five Prânas (Prâna, Apâna, Samâna, Udâna and Vyâna) the Prâna Vayu resides in the heart; Apâna Vayu in the Arms; Samâna Vayu resides in the Navel; Udâna Vayu rasides in the Throat; and the Vyâna Vâyu resides, pervading all over the body.

Devi BhAgavatam's Book 7's 32nd Chapter.

As examples, we can say:

"God knows how will be today's lunch?" ---- This is Manas at work whereas " Last day's lunch was delicious, today's lunch will be equally good too" ---- This is Chitta at work.


Manas is the special part of the mind that deliberates. Citta is involved in recollection. However, both manas and citta can mean the entire mind. One will have to look at the context to understand the exact meaning of manas and citta.

In any external perception four distinct factors are involved: the object, the cognate sense-organ, the mind (antahkarana), and the knowing self. In the absence of any of these no perception is possible. Of these four the self alone is intrinsically luminous, being of the nature of consciousness; the rest are devoid of consciousness. It is the light of the self that manifests the object. So the self must be connected or related with the object. The mind conjoined with the sense-organ brings about the relation. The self is the perceiver, the knower per se. As such it is distinct from the mind, which is knowable. …………….

In Western thought a clear-cut distinction between the mind and the knowing self is hardly noticeable; generally, mind is viewed as characterized by consciousness. But it is the consensus of Hindu philosophers that the self (atman) and the mind (antahkarana) are altogether different. Mind is an internal instrument of the knowing self; there is no consciousness inherent in it. …………….

Each sense-organ is produced by that very subtle element whose distinctive property it has the power to reveal. For instance, the organ of hearing is composed of the sattva aspect of subtle akasa, whose specific property ‘sound’ is manifested by it. Similarly, the organ of touch is composed of the sattva aspect of subtle vayu, whose specific property ‘touch’ is manifested by it. ……

The subtle aspect of all the five subtle elements (akasa, vayu, tejas, ap and ksiti) being combined produces mind (antahkarana), which therefore is material and has constituent parts. While sattva is predominant, rajas and tamas are overpowered. Basically, constituted of the finest and purest essence of matter, mind (antahkarana) has the special capacity to expand and contract and take the form of any object of knowledge, howsoever large or small, gross or fine, it may be. It can move instantaneously, so to speak. Though seated in the heart it pervades the whole body in the waking state. In dream state it recedes more of less to the subtle body. In deep sleep it is withdrawn to the causal body. …………..

But according to Vedanta mind is finite, that is, of medium magnitude (madhyama parimana). So it can be connected with one or more organs at the same time. Therefore a person can perceive different objects one after another or simultaneously. For instance, a student can listen to his teacher’s words and see his face at the same time. Otherwise, he will miss his words while seeing him. Similarly, the five organs of action can operate one after another or simultaneously. Indeed, both types of organs can function together. For instance, an actor sees, speaks, and acts at the same time.

As held by the Samkhya school mind is all-pervading (vibhu); but Vedanta distinguishes the individual mind from the cosmic mind, which belongs to Brahma, the World-soul, who presides over the cosmos. According to both Samkhya and Vedanta mind is a product and, therefore, not eternal.

Being composed of the subtlest and most transparent substance and closest to the self, mind (antahkarana) receives the light of consciousness that belongs to the self and is illuminated by it. With no light of its own it appears luminous. It seems to cognize, though it is not a cognizer but only an instrument of cognition. A crystal looks bright because of the light it absorbs, an iron ball glows with fire that permeates it; similarly, mind shines with borrowed light of consciousness. Thus it proves to be the most effective instrument of knowledge. From the grossest physical object to Brahman, the Supreme Being, whatever a person knows he knows through the mind. There cannot be any knowledge unless there is a modification of mind corresponding to the object. Knowledge is but the manifestation of consciousness through an appropriate mental mode. Mind is connected with the organs by means of the central nervous system, of which brain is a part. It is through the mind that the light of consciousness is transmitted to the sense-organs, which being made of sattva substance, have the special powers to receive the light. Thus they serve as the organs of perception. The light of consciousness radiating from the mind enables the motor-organs to function. All external perceptions, all actions, are due to the radiance of consciousness received by the organs from the luminous self (atman) through the mind. In dream state when the radiance recedes from the body none of the ten organs can function, but the mind continues to operate. In deep sleep when the radiance recedes, even from the mind, all mental operations including egoism comes to a dead stop. Says Vidyaranya: ’Mind, the leader of the ten organs is seated in the orb of the lotus of the heart. It is the inner instrument (antahkarana), since it cannot by itself deal with external objects without the organs (indriyas).’

Of the three aspects of mind (antahkarana), cognitive, affective, and conative, the cognitive is basic. It underlies the other two. Feeling and willing are invariably associated with some kind of cognition. Vedanta stresses the cognitive mind and takes into account its four states or functions (vrtti): deliberation (manas), determination (buddhi), egoism (ahankara), and recollection (citta). In every external perception these four are involved. On seeing a chair a person does not at once determine it as a chair. In the beginning he is vaguely aware of it as something. He is in an indecisive state. So he cogitates ‘what is it?’, ‘what is it?’ This function of deliberation is manas. Then he searches within and recalls some past impression akin to it. With this recollection he cognizes the object as ‘this is a chair’. This function of determination is buddhi. The function of recollection is citta. With the knowledge ‘This is a chair’ arises the knowledge ‘I know the chair’. This is the function of egoism. Because of the rapid succession of the four functions they seem to be instantaneous. The four functions represent four different states of the mind. Most Vedantins recognize two main states of the mind (antahkarana): deliberative (manas) and determinative (buddhi). Vedanta-sara includes ahamkara in manas and citta in buddhi. Like ‘antahkarana’ the term ‘manas’ is sometimes used for entire mind, and so is the term ‘citta’.

Methods of knowledge according to Advaita Vedanta by Swami Satprakashananda

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