antahkarana (Sanskrit: "inner conscience" or "the manifest mind") — the Mental faculty of the sukshma-sharira (astral body), comprising intellect, instinct and ego. It consists of 1. manas (the mind), 2. chitta (the memory), 3. buddhi (the intellect) and 4. ahańkāra (the ego).

4 ahańkāra "I-maker," egoity
3 buddhi knows, decides, judges, and discriminates
2 chitta storage of impressions
1 manas sensory, processing mind

The Four Functions of the Mind

There are four functions of the Mental faculty or Mind (represented with a capital M in English). In Sanskrit these four functions are designated as manas, buddhi, ahamkara and chitta.

Manas is ordinary, indeterminate thinking — just being aware that something is there and automatically registers the facts which the senses perceive.

The subconscious action, memory, etc., is caused by chitta. The function of chitta is chinta (contemplation), the faculty whereby the Mind in its widest sense raises for itself the subject of its thought and dwells thereon.

Buddhi determines, decides and logically comes to a conclusion that something is such-and-such a thing. That is another aspect of the operation of the psyche — buddhi or intellect. buddhi, on attending to such registration, discriminates, determines, and cognizes the object registered, which is set over and against the subjective self by ahańkāra.

Ahamkara — ego, affirmation, assertion, 'I know'. "I know that there is some object in front of me, and I also know that I know. I know that I am existing as this so-and-so." This kind of affirmation attributed to one's own individuality is the work of ahamkara, known as egoism.

Hierarchical relationship

There is a definite hierarchical relationship between the four parts of the mind from Mana to Ahankar in ascending order. Mana, being intangible hence superior than the body and sensory organs can control them but it can’t control or perceive Chitta as it is superior to Mana. Chitta can’t perceive Buddhi and Buddhi can’t perceive Ahankar. Ahankar being the subtlest of the four can perceive all these parts of the mind as well as the gross physical body. Asmita, the ‘Id’ is not included in the foursome called Antahkaran, as it is still above and subtler in the hierarchy.

The Mind perceives the world through the five senses

Our mind perceives the world around us through the five senses, namely, sound, touch, sight, taste and smell, aided by the five respective sensory organs the ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose. When our Mind desires to know an external object, it activates the sensory organ or organs necessary for the purpose, engulfs the object through that organ and collects the necessary information of the object. The part of mind performing the above task is called Manas and the above act is called Manan. The part of the Mind thinking and visualizing the objects, events and experiences from the past or the future is called the Chitta and this act is called Chintan. It is necessary to take note of the fact that in the process of Chintan the outer object is absent. The part of Mind that records the accumulated conclusive knowledge on brain neurons and help recalling the same as and when required is called Buddhi. The ever-present awareness of the above three actions, like ‘I, so and so, am knowing this particular object, I am internalizing the knowledge so acquired, I hold so much accumulated knowledge’, is the fourth part of the Mind, which is called Ahankar.


1. The Mandukya Upanishad, by Swami Krishnananda
2. The Riddle Called Mind, by S. B. GOGATE.


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