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Vritti – whirlpool in the mind

March 23, 2012


Vrtti literally means a whirlpool. It is a thought-wave in the lake of citta. Citta is the mind-stuff or mental substance. It takes various forms. These forms constitute vrttis. It gets transformed or modified (parinama). These transformations and modifications are the thought-waves, whirlpools or vrttis. If the citta thinks of a mango, the vrtti of a mango is formed in the lake of citta. This will subside and another vrtti will be formed when it thinks of milk (milk-vrtti). Countless vrttis are rising and subsiding in the ocean of citta. These vrttis cause restlessness of mind. Why do vrttis arise from citta? Because of samskaras (habits) and vasanas (desires). If you annihilate all desires, all vrttis will subside by themselves.

When a vrtti subsides it leaves a definite impression in the subconscious mind. It is known as samskara or latent impression. The sum-total of all samskaras is known as karmasaya (receptacle of works). This is sancita karma (accumulated work). When a man leaves the physical body, he carries with him his astral body of seventeen tatvas and the karmasaya as well to the mental plane. This karmasaya is burnt by the highest knowledge obtained through asamprajnata samadhi.

Modification is a vrtti in the mind. When the vrtti subsides it assumes the subtle state of potency or samskara in the citta or subconscious mind. This potency again becomes a vrtti under suitable conditions, when the mind comes in contact with sensual objects or through memory of objects from stimulus within. There are degrees in the vrttis or modifications that arise from the mind. You can check or control the lower vrtti with the help of higher vrttis or transformations. For instance, anger is a lower vrtti or a vrtti of a lower degree. Ksama (forgiveness) is a vrtti of a higher degree. With the help of ksama you can control the lower vrtti, anger. You can become a yogarudha (one who is established in yoga) by controlling all the vrttis of the mind. The yogi does not annihilate himself by controlling all the vrttis or modifications of the mind. By suppressing the transformations of the mind he acquires great powers. He becomes an (adept or perfect being) siddha.

Although the mind is one, it passes into many conditions or states, as it is made up of three qualities (gunas) satva, rajas and tamas. All these qualities enter into a variety of combinations. The modifications or vrttis of the mind are also various. Peace of mind is a satvic vrtti. Lust is a rajasic vrtti. Laziness is a tamasic vrtti.

By destroying the vrttis one by one, you gain more and more mental strength (manasic bala) and spiritual strength (atma bala). Do the practice and feel the strength yourself. The annihilation of even one vrtti will give you strength to destroy the second vrtti that is tormenting you. Patience, perseverance and persistent sadhana are necessary. How difficult is it to get the M.A. degree? How much more difficult should it be, if you want to attain the state of immortality and absolute freedom? Just as you remove a small pebble that causes irritation to your feet, so also you should then and there remove every vrtti that torments the mind. Unless and until you are able to do so, you have not gained any real mental strength or spiritual power. Just as you extract a tooth and then chuck it away, so also you should extract a disturbing vrtti and cast it aside. Raja yoga teaches how to extract or root out the disturbing thoughts. You will have to pay a heavy price for mastering this yoga.

Ignorant people identify themselves with the body, mind and the vrttis of the mind. The mind and the body are instruments only. The real man is behind the mind. If you become one with the mind, body and vrtti, you get various sorts of miseries and sufferings. The whole universe is created by the vrttis of the mind only. If these mental waves or thought-waves subside, you can attain the absolute state. Just as you can clearly see the bottom of a lake when the ripples and waves subside, so also you can cognise your real Self when the vrttis that agitate your mind subside.


From Sivananda Daily Readings shared by the Ananda Kutir Ashrama in Cape Town |

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