manas (Sanskrit: मनस्, "mind") from the root man, "to think" or "mind" — is the recording faculty; receives impressions gathered by the sense from the outside world. It is bound to the senses and yields vijnana (information) rather than jnana (wisdom) or vidya (understanding). That faculty which coordinates sensory impressions before they are presented to the consciousness. Relates to the mind; that which distinguishes man from the animals. One of the inner instruments that receive information from the external world with the help of the senses and present it to the higher faculty of buddhi (intellect). manas is one of the four parts of the antahkarana ("inner conscience" or "the manifest mind") and the other three parts are buddhi (the intellect), chitta (the memory) and ahankara (the ego).
Characteristics of Manas
- The perceiving faculty that receives the messages of the senses.
- The instinctive mind, ruler of motor and sensory organs.
- The seat of desire.
- Is termed the undisciplined mind.
- Is fraught with contradictions: doubt, faith, lack of faith, shame, desire, fear, steadfastness, lack of steadfastness.
- This particular faculty is characterized by doubt and volition.
- The mental faculty, that which distinguishes the human from mere animal.
- The individualizing principle; that which enables the individual to know that he or she exists, feels and knows.
- manas itself is mortal, goes to pieces at death — insofar as its lower parts are concerned.
Divided into two parts
Manas perceives through the senses
Manas is like the supervisor in the factory of life, and directs the ten senses or Indriyas. Manas does a wonderful job of carrying out directions, but it is not supposed to be the key decision maker in the factory. That is the job of Buddhi. If Buddhi is clouded, then Manas has a habit of continuing to question, seeking good instruction. Then it often listens to whoever is speaking the loudest in the factory, which is the wants, wishes, desires, attractions, and aversions stored in the memory bank of Chitta.
Mahat or The Universal Mind
Mahat or universal mind is the source of manas: what manas is in the human constitution, mahat is in the cosmic constitution. Manas is thus a direct ray from the cosmic mahat. Manas is sometimes loosely called the kshetrajna or real incarnating and permanent spiritual ego, the individuality; but the kshetrajna strictly speaking is the buddhi-manas or higher manas.
Manushya, the word meaning "man", implies that man is the master of manas (his mind).
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