What is the concept of the mind according to Hindu scriptures? As far as I understood, it is something very small in the head to which the brain reports to. And our visible universe is the reaction of the mind. Am I correct?
The following are excerpt from the Sri Ramana Maharshi's teachings - Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi. This may be helpful.
In answer to a question by a long resident attendant Sri Bhagavan said:
“Everybody complains of the restlessness of the mind. Let the mind be found and then they will know. True, when a man sits down to meditate thoughts rush up by dozens. The mind is only a bundle of thoughts. The attempt to push through the barrage of thoughts is unsuccessful. If one can by any means abide in the Self it is good.
For those who are unable to do so, chanting or meditation (Japa or dhyana) is prescribed. It is like giving a piece of chain to an elephant to hold in its trunk. The trunk of the elephant is usually restless. It puts it out in all directions when taken out in the streets of the town. If given a chain to carry the restlessness is checked. Similarly with the restless mind.
If made to engage in japa or dhyana, other thoughts are warded off: and the mind concentrates on a single thought. It thus becomes peaceful. It does not mean that peace is gained without a prolonged struggle. The other thoughts must be fought out.
Mind is known as Manas (Sanskrit word)in Vedic philosophy-now popularly known as Hinduism. Manas is the co-ordinator of 10 Indriyas (5 Gyana Indriyas + 5 Karma Indriyas) and serves as the conduit of external information to the Intelligence (Dharma Bhoota Gyana) of the conscious self-Jiva. Manas along with 10 Indriyas come out of Satvic Ahankar during the process of creation of the Universe. Manas has two more states called 'Chitham'(Analytical) and 'Buddhi'(Decision).
Well, mind is a vast topic to study and understand. There is a good book Mind According to Vedanta by Swami Satprakashanand on this topic. The paid version is available online.
Writing a little from memory about what I remember now:
- The book presents Vedantic concept of mind, that it is different from body and soul (and little more), and how it differs from Western concept. And also shows where Western concept has flaws.
- The mind is the seat of internal perception (antahakarana) just as the 5 sense organs are the seat of external perceptions.
- Involvement of mind is necessary for eyes to see (and notice), ears to listen (and understand) and other sense organs to perform properly.
Four functions of the mind are (suppose you see a chair, now how does your mind function):
- Manas (on seeing a chair, what is this ?)
- Chitta (mind searches its storage of impressions to find out such similar structured object)
- Buddhi (it decides that it knows it)
- Ahamkara (I-maker, i know that this is a chair)
Every time we see anything (and literally anything), the mind performs these four functions.
The mind stores all our impressions, even of past lives. Even a simple act such as walking leaves some impression on our mind. These impressions are source of our memory. It is through these impressions that we develop likes and dislikes.
Purity of mind is of utmost importance for concentration of the mind. Our (unless we are enlightened) subconscious mind has many undesirable (bad for spiritual progress) impressions. The fight to purify this subconscious mind is to be fought at conscious level. That is, we have to attempt not to feed our mind with bad thoughts.
I do not exactly remember what the book says about its position in the body. Anyways, the book surely answers your question in detail. It is a good read.