What is Chitta in ‘Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha’

chitta- consciousness

If you are in Yoga from some time, probably you would have heard this line..

“Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha.”

This line (sutra) has come from Patanjali’s Yoga-sutra. Here for simplicity purpose of translation, individual words of this sutra can be translated as:

Chitta – Mind

Vritti – Modification

Nirodha – Stops

Most of the people the elaborate definition of Yoga in this way. According to this philosophical sutra: Yoga stops the modifications of the mind. 

Individual words in the Sanskrit language can have very great depth meaning behind them. Same here apply on the individual words of the above Sutra. Yoga Sutra introduces Chitta & its classification to understand the working of consciousness.

What is Chitta in “yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha”?

According to yoga philosophy, this universe has emerged from three qualities (Trigunas) known as Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. Everything in the universe (material or immaterial) is made up of Sattva (Constructive quality), Rajas (active quality) & Tamas (destructive quality). These Trigunas are the source of consciousness in all beings.

Yoga Sutra defined Chitta an Antahkarana (internal sense of organ) used for thinking principles of mind. Like the universe, Chitta also made up of Trigunas & so the human’s source of consciousness. The quantity of Sattva, Rajas & Tamas in Chitta varies from time to time & decides the behavior, perception of the quality & intellect of an individual being. This is (Triguna) the reason you feel sometimes very active, curious about something and other time feels sleepy & lazy.

You can imagine the role of Chitta in the human body by considering a computer system. Chitta is like the software of a computer system wherein the physical body is the hardware of it. Chitta is the software of experiencing the outer world through the body (hardware) & realizing the inner-self.

Yoga sutra tells: Chitta consists of Manas, Buddhi & Ahamkar.

1. Manas


The literal meaning of Manas is ‘Mind’. Manas is the fundamental instrument of Chitta or Antahkarana (internal sense of organ). Manas regulates the external sensory system & collects raw data from the environment through senses. It is responsible for the perception of an object & realization of the presence of a thought (Happiness, Sorrow).

In Yoga Sutra, Power of mind to control itself & sensory system is referred to as psyche or Mati (Manas).

The object of Mind (Manas)

  1. Think – Mind Thinks in chosen one: Whether to do or not to do a thing. Furthermore, mind Thinks when have to memorize a previously occurred moment.
  2. Analysis – When mind thinks upon the quality & error of perceived knowledge to accept or reject thing, it is called Analysis.
  3. Hypothesis – It is the self-discussion state of mind about a perceived thing.

Body, Mind (Manas) & Soul: the flow of consciousness

Mind (Manas) establishes a connection between body & soul. A soul is conscious but its motionless present in the heart. On the other hand, a mind is active but don’t have its own consciousness. Considering mind without a soul is like an unconscious instrument which can’t work properly. To make the mind work proper, the soul’s consciousness is transferred to mind & through mind to the whole body. In this way, a mind is used as a tool between body & soul to flow consciousness.                           

2. Buddhi


Buddhi is the second instrument of Chitta & it literally translates as ‘Intellect’. Buddhi decides acceptance or non-acceptance of raw data coming from Mind (Manas) through different senses & previous experiences. In the process of realizing a thing, buddhi is above mind. Decision taking ability of buddhi makes us aware of an object or a thought. Hence, with buddhi awareness born & start growing.

Perception of an object & then analysis on that perception, buddhi leads to certain characteristics about an object. Furthermore, with this characteristic of an object, we begin to identify things according to our buddhi.

A completely awakened buddhi is when mind (Manas) is silent and not involved with external senses (instead mind lies with the soul in this state).

3. Ahamkar


Ahamkar is the 3rd substance of Chitta which born out from buddhi’s decision on raw data. It creates ‘I’ sense in the mind, hence awareness binds up to limited thing only.

Feelings & thoughts about things stem from ‘I’ sense & we begin to identify things accordingly. This can be understood in the following way: Suppose a dog bites you once. From that experience, you begin to identify the dog as a harmful animal & develop a personality of yourself ‘someone who hates dogs’. This is the development of ‘I’ sense from Ahamkar which makes us realize the presence of our enemy.

Chitta is the complete set of consciousness which born out with soul & ends up on Ahamkar. It let us enter thought through senses (Manas), process on thought (Buddhi) & finally generate an ‘I’ sense according to our buddhi.

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