Are there any good references that discuss the concepts of Chitta and Vrittis used primarily in Samkhya Philosophy in Upanishads?

To the best of my knowledge, Upanishads are advaitic majorly. How Yoga Upanishads discuss raja yoga then?

  • A related question and answers -- hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/27997
    – Rickross
    Nov 16, 2023 at 8:25
  • @Rickross That is more about Chitta (comprehension processes inside the brain) and manas (a part of the mind that is used for imagination and thoughts). That is completely different from Chitta and Vrittis (which are supposed to be different states of mind due to manas, buddhi, ahamkara, etc).
    – user29449
    Nov 16, 2023 at 13:07
  • Yes, not exactly the same that is why I said related
    – Rickross
    Nov 16, 2023 at 14:12
  • You need some clarity in basic concepts: Upanishads as part of Vedas. 6 schools of philosophy are derived from Vedas. Out of 6 one is Yoga and another is Vedant. Vedant teaches Advaita. In short, Upanishads can be interpreted in many ways.
    – Kaushik
    Dec 2, 2023 at 3:47
  • @Kaushik Please re-read the questions once. I acknowledge different schools of Vedic philosophy (NOT philosophy, rather intrepretation!) - samkhya, Advaita, Nyaya, etc. Concepts like Chitta and Vrittis are majorly found in samkhya schools of literature. I wish to know how they are interpreted in advaitic literature too. > Upanishads can be interpreted in many ways, not really, only a few of them accept multiple interpretations, but not all and this question has nothing to do with that thing
    – user29449
    Dec 2, 2023 at 7:18

1 Answer 1


Upanishads seem to posit only an abstract idea of 'what an inner instrument(antahkarana) is', that being so ,chitta is also abstract in mantras of Upanishads (like many other aphorisms of vedantic truths), (to my knowledge)

It is only through vichara (interpretation, reflection, contemplation) the true knowledge of an upanishadic idea, is usually sought . Nevertheless bhashyas/vrittis , gives more clarity aiding the vichara.

SoTaxanomical distinctiveness of antahkarana is more pronounced in commentaries by seers ,while the idea is abstract in mantras

Upanishads (Shrutis)

kāmaḥ saṃkalpo vicikitsā śraddhā’śraddhā dhṛtiradhṛtirhrīrdhīrbhīrityetadsarvaṃ mana eva tasmādapi pṛṣṭhata upaspṛṣṭo manasā vijānāti;
Desire, resolve, doubt, faith, want of faith, steadiness, unsteadiness, shame, intelligence and fear—all these are but the mind. Even if one is touched from behind, one knows it through the mind; therefore (the mind exists). Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.5.3)**

..manaśca mantavyaṃ ca buddhiśca boddhivyaṃ cāhaṅkāraścāhaṅkartavyaṃ ca cittaṃ ca cetayitavyaṃ ca tejaśca vidyotayitavyaṃ ca prāṇaśca vidyārayitavyaṃ ca
..mind and what must be thought, the intellect and what must be determined, egotism and its object, Chitta and its object, light and its object, and Prana and what must be supported by it.(Prasna upanishad 4.8)

  1. The Manomaya-Kosa is made up of Vrittis or thoughts. It is subtler than the Pranamaya-Kosa. It controls the Pranamaya-Kosa. So it is the inner self of the Pranamaya-Kosa.

Taittiriya Upanishad (The Human Being's Five Sheaths.32: Swami Sivananda)

city with eleven gates, पुरमेकादशद्वारमजस्यावक्रचेतसः। (Katha Upanishad 2.2.1))

Smiritis and Secondary vedic texts

निगद्यतेऽन्तःकरणं मनोधीः अहंकृतिश्चित्तमिति स्ववृत्तिभिः । मनस्तु संकल्पविकल्पनादिभिः बुद्धिः पदार्थाध्यवसायधर्मतः ॥ VC ९३ ॥ अत्राभिमानादहमित्यहंकृतिः । स्वार्थानुसन्धानगुणेन चित्तम् ॥ VC ९४ ॥ The inner organ (Antahkaraṇa) is called Manas, Buddhi, ego or Chitta, according to their respective functions: Manas, from its considering the pros and cons of a thing; Buddhi, from its property of determining the truth of objects; the ego, from its identification with this body as one’s own self; and Chitta, from its function of seeking for pleasurable objects(Vivekachudamani 93,94)

नानाविध्यासमायुक्तो जीवत्वेन वसाम्यहम्‌ । पच्चकर्मेन्द्रियाण्येव पच्च ज्ञानेन्द्रियाणि च । मनोबुद्धिरहंकारश्चित्त वेति चतुष्टयम्‌ ॥ ‘I reside in living creatures in the midst of many kinds of ignorance. There are five karmendriyas and there are five jnanendriyas. There are also the four known as mana, buddhi, ahamkara and chitta.’ (Shiva Gita)

मनोबुद्ध्यहङ्कार चित्तानि नाहं ।न च श्रोत्रजिह्वे न च घ्राणनेत्रे। “I am not mana, buddhi, ahamkara or chitta.(Nirvana shatakam)

अन्तःकरणं त्रिविधं दशधा बाह्यं त्रयस्य विषयाख्यम्। साम्प्रतकालं बाह्यं त्रिकालमाभ्यन्तरं करणम्॥ ३३॥ The internal organ is three-fold. The external is ten-fold; they are called the objects of the three (internal organs). The external organs function at the present time and the internal organs function at all the three times.(Sankya karika 33,Swami Virupakshananda)

स्वालक्षण्यं वृत्तिस्त्रयस्य सैषा भवत्यसामान्या। सामान्यकरणवृत्तिः प्राणाद्या वायवः पञ्च॥ २९ Of the three internal organs (viz. Buddhi, Ahaṁkāra and Mind), each has its own function, - this is not common to all of these; but the functions of the five Prāṇas (Prāṇa, Apāna, Udāna, Vyāna and Samāna) are the functions which are common to all Indriyas.(samkya karika 29,Sri Radhanath Phukan)

Swami Vivekananda (Sutras of Patanjali 1.2)

योग: चित्त-वृत्ति निरोध: Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff (Chitta) from taking various forms (Vrittis). A good deal of explanation is necessary here. We have to understand what Chitta is, and what the Vrittis are. I have eyes. Eyes do not see. Take away the brain centre which is in the head, the eyes will still be there, the retinae complete, as also the pictures of objects on them, and yet the eyes will not see. So the eyes are only a secondary instrument, not the organ of vision. The organ of vision is in a nerve centre of the brain. — the mind must be joined to the organ. The eye is the external instrument; we need also the brain centre and the agency of the mind. . The mind takes the impression farther in, and presents it to the determinative faculty — Buddhi — which reacts. Along with this reaction flashes the idea of egoism. Then this mixture of action and reaction is presented to the Purusha, the real Soul, who perceives an object in this mixture. The organs (Indriyas), together with the mind (Manas), the determinative faculty (Buddhi), and egoism (Ahamkâra), form the group called the Antahkarana (the internal instrument). They are but various processes in the mind-stuff, called Chitta. The waves of thought in the Chitta are called Vrittis (literally “whirlpool”) . What is thought? Thought is a force, as is gravitation or repulsion. From the infinite storehouse of force in nature, the instrument called Chitta takes hold of some, absorbs it and sends it out as thought. the mind-stuff, and Vrittis are the waves and ripples rising in it when external causes impinge on it. These Vrittis are our universe. The bottom of a lake we cannot see, because its surface is covered with ripples. It is only possible for us to catch a glimpse of the bottom, when the ripples have subsided, and the water is calm. If the water is muddy or is agitated all the time, the bottom will not be seen. If it is clear, and there are no waves, we shall see the bottom. The bottom of the lake is our own true Self; the lake is the Chitta and the waves the Vrittis. Again, the mind is in three states, one of which is darkness, called Tamas, found in brutes and idiots; it only acts to injure. No other idea comes into that state of mind. Then there is the active state of mind, Rajas, whose chief motives are power and enjoyment. “I will be powerful and rule others.” Then there is the state called Sattva, serenity, calmness, in which the waves cease, and the water of the mind-lake becomes clear. It is not inactive, but rather intensely active. It is the greatest manifestation of power to be calm Although the Chitta is in every animal, from the lowest to the highest, it is only in the human form that we find it as the intellect. Until the mind-stuff can take the form of intellect it is not possible for it to return through all these steps, and liberate the soul. Immediate salvation is impossible for the cow or the dog, although they have mind, because their Chitta cannot as yet take that form which we call intellect.(Swami Vivekananda).

Swami Sivananda

Subconscious mind is termed 'Chitta' in Vedanta. Much of your subconsciousness consists of submerged experiences
Swami Sivananda

Samskaaras ( such as raaga/dvesha -likes/dislikes , other memories, habits ) repose (latent) in chitta .

Chitta is termed as the mind-stuff or mental substance. It is the ground floor, as it were. From it proceed the three Vrittis, viz., Manas, Buddhi and Ahankara. This word belongs to the Rajayogic terminology of Maharshi Patanjali. Chitta is a separate faculty or category in Vedanta.( 4 faculties Manas,chitta,budhi,and ahamkara constitute antahkarana according to vedanta ) Sometimes it is Antargata, comes under Mind. In Sankhya philosophy, it is included in Buddhi or Mahat-Tattva. The Chitta of Patanjali Rishi's philosophy of Raja Yoga (Yogas-chittavritti-nirodhah) corresponds to the Antahkarana of Vedanta.
Swami Sivananda

The mental processes are not limited to the field of consciousness alone. The field of subconscious mentation is of a much greater extent than that of conscious mentation. The mind is not conscious of the greater portion of its own activities. As man can hold in consciousness but one fact at a time, only a fraction of our knowledge can be in the field of consciousness at any one moment. Only ten per cent of mental activities come into the field of consciousness. Ninety per cent of the mental activities takes place in the subconscious mind. Messages, when ready, come out like a flash from the subconscious mind to the surface of the conscious mind through the trapdoor in the subconscious mind The functions of the Chitta are Smriti or Smarana, Dharana, attention and Anusandhana (enquiry or investigation). When you repeat the Japa of a Mantra, it is the Chitta that does the Smarana. It does a lot of work. It turns out better work than the mind or Buddhi.
Swami Sivananda


It is a wave of thought that arises in the Antahkarana. Vrittis are modifications of the mind.Just as waves and bubbles arise from the surface of the ocean, so also these Vrittis arise from the surface of the mind-ocean.
Swami Sivananda

The process of dhyana(continuous flow of identical vrittis) is often compared to tailadharavat (pouring of oil),though ordinarily non- identical vritis arise ,remain for a fraction,then subside in succession

  • 1
    This is a good answer with a great explanation. But it'd be more helpful if you can refer Upanishads for such terminologies - that was the point of asking the question.
    – user29449
    Nov 18, 2023 at 6:40
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    Thank you for the updates. I'm accepting the answer with an upvote. Thank you for your contribution.
    – user29449
    Nov 30, 2023 at 6:12
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    Brilliant brilliant answer @Athrey. Very well written! Kudos !! I would want to connect with you on Gmail or Telegram if you don't mind. Dec 1, 2023 at 7:04
  • @SethuSrivatsaKoduru , Iam no scholar , just an ardent reader /ordinary aspirant. sorry to say that I'm not in a position to connect thru any personal social networking. Anyway, thanks very much for regarding the answer.
    – Athrey
    Dec 17, 2023 at 15:17

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