Citta or Chitta in Yoga and Hindu tradition

by Jayaram V

Chitta is one of the four aspects of the human mind, the other three being buddhi (intelligence), manas (conscious mind) and ahamkara (ego principle). The word "chinta" (thinking or worrying) is derived from the word "chitta" only.

Chitta is the mind-stuff or a vast data warehouse where all past memories, images, thoughts, feelings, desires, emotions, samskaras and other forms of impressions of an individual remain stored. These memories and impressions may belong to the current life of an individual or even his or her previous lives. It is from here one picks ones core thoughts and desires (vasanas), the sum of ones life and actions, and carry them forward to ones next birth.

In the context of modern psychology chitta is the total mind body awareness which is subject to states and modifications in respose to external and internal events and objects. The collective consciousness of Jung which contain archetypal and racial memories may be considered as part of chitta only. Chitta plays an important role in the creation and recollection of dream states as the dream experiences of the sleeping state are also stored in the chitta.

One of the principal aims of yoga is quieting the mind, an integral aspect of which consists of quieting the chitta also. During some forms of meditation we can witness how thoughts and memories arise from the depths of our chitta and then subside into it. This understanding would help us gain control over our thought process and attain inner calm.

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