Concept of Mind in the Major Upanishads

by Gisha K. Narayanan | 2018 | 35,220 words

This page relates ‘Acknowledgement’ of the study on the concept of Mind as found in the Major Upanishads: the philosophical backbone of the four Vedas. This study explores the various characteristics and psychological aspects of the mind (described by the Seers of ancient India thousands of years ago) including awareness (samjna), understanding (vijnana) and knowledge (prajnana).


The mind, commonly we think, is hidden within ourselves. It is the form of thinking, judgment, memory, consciousness, perception etc. It also is connected with the terms in human life of desire, aversion, pleasure, pain, intelligence, thought etc. The functions of mind is to store all the impressions that we receive from our past experiences and activities. In Indian philosophy mind or manas is something distinct from the Self or the Atman. It literally means ‘measuring’. It has been used in this sense in the Vedas and the Brāhmaṇas from very early times. The Vedas are the earliest documents which give clear information on the culture, thoughts and spiritual tendencies of human mind. Manas from root ‘man’ means ‘to think’. Manas is the recording faculty; and it receives impressions gathered by the sense organs from the outside world. It is to be regarded as the faculty attending all cognitive, affective and conative processes.

The very effective verses that can be found in the Vedas reveal the way in which the consciousness pervades through the Vedic prayers. This Vedic prayer, Gāyatrimantra, stimulates and enlightens one’s intellect and mind. This work aims at the methods to control one mental activities and to reduce our emotions in the modern times by an analytical study of the mind in the Upaniṣads.

This research work, entitled ‘CONCEPT OF MIND IN THE MAJOR UPANISHADS’, is divided into six chapters. The first Chapter ‘INTRODUCTION’ deals with the general presentation of the concept of Mind and its nature, scope and relevance of this study. The second chapter, ‘THE CONCEPT OF MIND IN PRE-UPANIṢADIC LITERATURE, provides the description on mind the in early Vedas. In this chapter the concept of mind in the Vedas, the Saṃhitas, the Brāhmaṇas and the Āraṇyakas are clearly illustrated. This also gives the general descriptions of the Upaniṣads and their historical background, meaning etc. The Vedas, the Brāhmaṇas and the Saṃhitas used the concept of mind in the sense of intellect or citta. The mind is also denoted as consciousness for some mystical powers and it forms different ideas and decisions. The third chapter, ‘THE CONCEPT OF MIND IN DARŚANAS’, discusses the analysis of mind in Indian philosophy. The Indian philosophical system is clearly classified into two wide divisions viz. Nāstika and Āstika. This chapter describes the mind in the Sāṃkhya, the Yoga, the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika, the Pūrvamīmāṃsa and the Uttaramīmāṃsa. They are the school of the Āstikas. The concept of mind in Buddhism, Jainism and Cārvāka is also dealt with in this chapter.

The fourth and the main chapter, CONCEPT OF MIND IN THE MAJOR UPNIṢADS, is an analytical study of the mind as dealt with in the major Upaniṣads. It is mainly aimed at the study of the ten principal Upaniṣads. The concept of mind in the Īśāvāsyopaniṣad, the Kenopaniṣad, the Kaṭhopaniṣad, the Praśnopaniṣad, the Muṇḍakopaniṣad, the Māṇḍūkyopaniṣad, the Taittirīyopaniṣad, the Aitareyopaniṣad, the Chāndogyopaniṣad, and the Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad are well explained in this chapter. The Śvetaśvataropaniṣad, and the Kauṣītakībrāhmaṇopaniṣad are also mentioned because they are the important in the chronological order of the Upaniṣads.

The fifth chapter is also significant one. That is ‘THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECTS AS REFLECTED IN THE UPANIṢADS. It gives a mention on the psychological reflection in the Upaniṣads. States of consciousness, functions of mind, the Upaniṣadic view on self and personality and meditation in the Upaniṣads are also described in this chapter.

The sixth Chapter is ‘CONCLUSION’. Here come the concluding remarks and finally the observations and findings. Finally an appendix consisting of the śrutis mentioning the concept of mind in the major Upaniṣads is also attached.

I undertook this study under the guidance and supervision of Dr. K. Remadevi Amma, Professor, Department of Vedanta, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady. I take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to her for the valuable and sagacious directions she gave me at each and every stage upto the completion of the thesis.

I express my deep gratitude to Dr. K. Muthulekshmi, Professor and Head of the Department of Vedanta, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady. I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Prof. (Dr.) B. Chandrika, former Head of the Dept. for her valuable suggestions. I wish to thank Prof. (Dr.) V. Ramakrishna Bhatt, visiting Professor in the Dept. of Vedanta, for his timely help and suggestions for my thesis. I also express my gratitude to Prof. (Dr.) E. Narayana Kaimal, Principal and Head of the Department of English, Rajagiri Visvajyothi Collage of Arts and Applied Sciences, Vengoor, Perumbavoor, for checking the linguistic aspect of this thesis and also for his unreserved suggestions.

I express my sincere thanks to the faculty members of the Department of Vedanta, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, for their help and encouragement.

My gratitude also remains to all my friends for their timely help. I also express my sincere thanks to the staff of the University Library, for providing all necessary facilities for undertaking this project.

I also express my sincere thanks to the authorities of the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, for providing the financial assistance and all other necessary help during my course of study. I also express my sincere thanks to my husband and family members for the kind help and co-operation rendered by them for the completion of this thesis.

Gisha K. Narayanan


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