What is the meaning and concept of Manonasha according to Advaita.

It seems to imply destruction of the mind and sookshma shareera, as sookshma shareera is made of mind.

Please answer with citations from authentic Advaita scriptures or Ramana Maharishi or Nisargadutta Maharaj sayings.

Edit: Please make sure to cite references where manonasha word is explicitly mentioned.

2 Answers 2


From Ramana Maharshi Self-Enquiry

M:Whatever thoughts arise as obstacles to one's sadhana (spiritual discipline)—the mind should not be allowed to go in their direction, but should be made to rest in one's self which is the Atman; one should remain as witness to whatever happens, adopting the attitude "Let whatever strange things happen, happen; let us see!" This should be one's practice. In other words, one should not identify oneself with appearances; one should never relinquish one's self. This is the proper means for destruction of the mind (manonasa) which is of the nature of seeing the body as self, and which is the cause of all the aforesaid obstacles.

This method which easily destroys egoity deserves to be called devotion (bhakti), meditation (dhyana), concentration (yoga), and knowledge (jnana). Because God remains of the nature of the Self, shining as "I" in the heart, because the scriptures declare that thought itself is bondage, the best discipline is to stay quiescent without ever forgetting Him (God, the Self), after resolving in Him the mind which is of the form of the "I"-thought, no matter by what means. This is the conclusive teaching of the Scriptures.

D: Is enquiry only the means for removal of the false belief of selfhood in the gross body, or is it also the means for removal of the false belief of selfhood in the subtle and causal bodies?

M: It is on the gross body that the other bodies subsist. In the false belief of the form "I am the body" are included all the three bodies consisting of the five sheaths. And destruction of the false belief of selfhood in the gross body is itself the destruction of the false belief of selfhood in the other bodies. So inquiry is the means to removal of the false belief of selfhood in all the three bodies.

Generally, in advaita, Manonasa implies the destruction of the mind and non-identification with ALL sariras. Manonasa is Sine Qua Non for realization in advaita.

From Who am I,

Therefore, the exercise of breath-control is only an aid for rendering the mind quiescent (manonigraha); it will not destroy the mind (manonasa).

From Jivanmukti Viveka of Vidyaranya

We shall now address ourselves to the means which lead to Jivanmukti (Liberation in this Life). These are Jnana, manonasa and vasana-kshaya.

For Jivanmukti the obliteration of latent impressions (vaasanaa-kshaya) and dissolution of the mind (mano naasa) are the principal means.

From Yoga Vasishtha

Oh best of intellects, vasasa-Kshaya, Jnana and Manonasa, must be attended to simultaneously for sufficient length of time, if not,...Jivanmukti can never be realised, even at the end of a hundred years.

The advaita bodha deepika devotes an entire chapter: Manonasa-The Extinction of the Mind

  1. D.: Let it be so. How can the mind be extinguished [manonasa]?

M.: To forget everything is the ultimate means. But for thought, the world does not arise. Do not think and it will not arise. When nothing arises in the mind, the mind itself is lost. Therefore do not think of anything, forget all. This is the best way to kill the mind. [manonasa]

35-37. D.: Has anyone else said so before?

M.: Vasishta said so to Rama...details from yoga vasistha.

YOGA VASISTA SARA says in the chapter Manonasa [DISSOLUTION OF MIND]

When the mind is dissolved [manonasa], everything is dissolved. What remains after that is the SUPREME BRAHMAN, peaceful,eternal and free from misery.

Ribhu gita [sanskrit verson] says similar

The state of firm abidance in that thought-free after Mano nasha constitutes moksha. This is the Truth.

Ribhu gita [tamil version] states the same.

There are several quotations from Upanishads too. Amritabindu upanishad verse 5,

The mind should be prevented from functioning, until it dissolves [manonasa] itself in the heart. This is Jnana

Shankara in vivekachudamani says

  1. The Yogi’s mind dies, being constantly fixed on his own Self.
  2. This apparent universe has its root in the mind, and never persists after the mind is annihilated. Therefore dissolve the mind

Many more verses are on this in vivekachudamani. Manonasa is of two kinds, viz., (i) Svarupa Manonasa, and (ii) Arupa Manonasa, occurring to jivanmuktas and videhamuktas, respectively. In all cases, manonasa leads to self-realization. In his Brahma Sutra Bhashya Shankara clearly states that Videha Mukti does not constitute a higher state than Jivanmukti or vice-versa. So we do not need to go into this.

When the vasanas are removed, this results in the destruction of ignorance/mind (manonasa) and this leads to direct knowledge (aparoksha jnana) and self-realisation (atma sakshatkara).

I have not come across any literature from Shankara that says self-realisation is possible while maintaining the sookshma shareera and without the dissolution of the mind.

In fact, the bhashyas of upanishads and Brahma sutras by Shankara are very clear on this. For example, in chapter 4 of Brahma sutras, Shankara clearly states

When Brahman is realized, the non-clinging and destruction of the subsequent and previous karma respectively.

Mundaka Upanishad II.ii.8 - "

Sundered are the knots of the heart, torn off are all his doubts, and the seeds of his karma disappear when the [experiential] knowledge of Brahman is obtained.

Thus, karmas are all gone on self-realisation and manonasa. Traditional advaita holds that jnanis but continue to experience prarabdha karma until their body dies [i.e., till the jnani attains mahanirvana]. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi denies this saying that this is only told to ignorant people because people do not understand how the jiva functions after manonasa.

Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham, verse 33:

The statement that the jnani retains prarabdha while free from sanchita and agami is only a formal answer to the questions of the ignorant. Of several wives none escapes widowhood when the husband dies; even so, when the doer goes, all three karmas vanish.

Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 1146:

Prarabdha will never fail [to take its course] in the case of a body that has been born to exhaust it. But the jivanmukta who has severed the chit-jada knot, and thereby become distinct from the body, has transcended prarabdha.

But how does a jnani function after manonasa? The ignorant ask how can the jnani still think, act, talk and remember as there is no mind left after manonasa.

The same question is asked Rama to Vasistha:

Rama: The result will be dullness like that of stones or wood [after manonasa].

Vasishta: Not so. All this is only illusion. Forgetting the illusion, you are freed from it. Though seeming dull, you will be the Bliss Itself. Your intellect will be altogether clear and sharp. Without getting entangled in worldly life, but appearing active to others remain as the very Bliss of Brahman and be happy. Unlike the blue colour of the sky, let not the illusion of the world revive in the pure Ether of Consciousness-Self. To forget this illusion is the sole means to kill the mind and remain as Bliss. Though Shiva, Vishnu, or Brahman Himself should instruct you, realisation is not possible without this one means [manonasa].

Mind is merely a reflection of Consciousness. When the reflection is destroyed, Consciousness shines through in all its glory through the jnani when the mind is absent. However, to the ignorant who are unsatisfied with the answer that one can function without the mind, it is said that sattvic mind works through the jnani. This is explained as:

Talks with Ramana Maharshi, Talk 68

Vritti belongs to the rajasic (active) mind. The satvic mind (mind is repose) is free from it. The satvic is the witness of the rajasic. It is no doubt true consciousness. Still it is called satvic mind because the knowledge of being witness is the function of abhasa (reflected consciousness) only. Mind is the abhasa. Such knowledge implies mind. But the mind is by itself inoperative. Therefore it is called satvic mind.

Such is the jivanmukta’s state. It is also said that his mind is dead [after manonasa]. Is it not a paradox that a jivanmukta has a mind and that it is dead? This has to be conceded in argument with ignorant folk.

Satvic mind is surmised of the jivanmukta and of Iswara. “Otherwise,” they argue, “how does the jivanmukta live and act?” The satvic mind has to be admitted as a concession to argument.

The satvic mind is in fact the Absolute consciousness. The object to be witnessed and the witness finally merge together and Absolute consciousness alone reigns supreme. It is not a state of sunya (blank) or ignorance. It is the swarupa (Real Self). Some say that mind arises from consciousness followed by reflection (abhasa); others say that the abhasa (reflection) arises first followed by the mind. In fact both are simultaneous.

In any case, after the mahasamadhi wherein the body of the jnani dies, there are no karmas and sariras left. If all sariras and karmas are destroyed on realisation, how is rebirth of a jnani possible? However, Shankara accounts for the possibility of jnanis [in rare cases] to be born again even after realisation and equates this to equivalence of the Prarabdha karma.

Brahma-Sutra 3.3.32: Sanskrit text and English translation.

यावदधिकारमवस्थितिराधिकारिकाणाम् ॥ ३२ ॥

yāvadadhikāramavasthitirādhikārikāṇām || 32 ||

Rishi Apantaratama was born again as Vyasa. Sanatkumara was born as Skanda. So also other Rishis like Vasishtha and Narada were born again. Now these Rishis had attained the knowledge of Brahman, and yet they had to be reborn. Ordinarily a person after attaining Knowledge is not reborn. But the case of those who have a divine mission to fulfil is different. Those perfected sages have one or more births until their mission is fulfilled, after which they are not born again. But then they never come under the sway of ignorance although they may be reborn. The divine mission of these people is comparable to the Prarabdha Karma.

Therefore, in some sense, they may considered as "Avatars". For example, Rishi Apantaratama is considered avatar of vishnu and Narada as avatar of Brahma (this is from Narada charitram).

From a paramarthika viewpoint, of course, there is no avatar, jiva etc. But from a vyavaharika view, Avatars and jnanis are different. Though both are Nirguna Brahman at the essence, there is a distinction in the vyahavarika level. The sariras of a person are due to his past karma and are destroyed by jnana and subsequently on mahasamadhi. However, the sariras of an avatara are not due to karma, but rather are created by Ishvara from time to time to fulfil the mission of the world and maintain dharma.

  • I have one doubt, after manonasha how can the Yogi still think, act, talk and remember as there is no mind left. After manonasha the state should be similar to coma.
    – user22253
    Jul 17, 2021 at 13:53
  • Also when Shankaracharya says all karma is gone he's referring to Sanchita karma. But Prarabdha is not destroyed on realisation. Where is the home of prarabdha? It's in Manomaya and Pranamaya kosha which is part of Sookshma shareera. If sookshma shareera is destroyed how is prarabdha retained??
    – user22253
    Jul 17, 2021 at 13:59
  • 1
    @MrGreenGold See my extensive additions to the answer that answers both the questions.
    Jul 17, 2021 at 14:55
  • Thank you so much for your efforts, the problem is in the extensive discussion if actually see the original source the word manonasha is not at all mentioned, In the first example Vasishta is more probably talking about Jnani and Vasana Kshaya. Because Vasishta is saying you will be more sharp?? What does the mean? What does sharp mean?? Means clever and intelligent, those are all the qualities of mind, so mind has to be there.
    – user22253
    Jul 17, 2021 at 15:50
  • Moreover the talk with Ramana exactly proves my point, he's saying tamasic mind is destroyed but sattvic mind is not destroyed as it still remains. So it's technically not manonasha yet. What happens when Sattvic mind is also destroyed is my question
    – user22253
    Jul 17, 2021 at 15:53

No it does not literally imply the destruction of the mind. It means the the Avidya or ignorance that covers the mind is destroyed.

There is no ignorance (Avidya) outside the mind. The mind alone is Avidya, the cause of the bondage of transmigration. When that is destroyed, all else is destroyed, and when it is manifested, everything else is manifested.

Vivekchudamani 169 of Sri Sankaracharya translated by Swami Madhavananda

According to Vedanta, there is no actual change in the Self, which is by nature pure and perfect. It is ignorance or Avidya that has covered Its vision, so to say, and It appears as limited and subject to change. Now, this ignorance is embedded in the mind and when the mind is thoroughly purified through sadhana or discipline, the glory of the Atman manifests itself. This is said to be liberation.

Commentary of Swami Madhavananda

I checked 'Talks with Sri Ramana Maharsi' for Manonasa. Sri Ramana says the following about Mano-nasa:

Mano-nasa, jnana, and Chittaikagrata (annihilation of the mind, knowledge and one-pointedness) mean the same.

Talks with Sri Ramana Maharsi, 5th November 1936

Sri Ramana also means the same. Mano-nasa does not mean literally the destruction of the mind. He equates it with Jnana and one-pointedness of the mind. The mind cannot become one-pointed and Jnana cannot dawn unless the Avidya covering is destroyed.

  • the word manonasha doesn't occur any where here. Here what is meant by that is Avidya. So thia verse is about destruction of Avidya not manonasha, please cite verses where manonasha word is explicitly mentioned.
    – user22253
    Jul 17, 2021 at 12:49

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