In the Saiikhya-Yoga system, the individual self (jiva) is regarded as the free spirit associated with the gross body and more closely related to a subtle body constituted by the senses, the manas, the ego and the intellect.
The self is, in its own nature, pure consciousness, free from the limitations of the body and the fluctuations of the mind (citta).
But in its ignorance it confuses itself with citta. The site is the first product of prakrti, in which the element of sativa or the power of manifestation naturally predominates over those of rajas and tames.
It is essentially unconscious; but being in the closest proximity to the self it reflects, through its manifesting power, the self s consciousness so as to become apparently conscious and intelligent.
It is different from manas which is the internal sense. When the citta is related to any object through manas, it assumes the form of that object.
The self knows the objects of the world through the modifications of citta which correspond to the forms of the objects known.
Although the self really undergoes to change or modification, yet because of its reflection in the changing states and processes of citta, the self appears to be subject to changes and to pass through different states of the mind or citta, in the same way in which the moon appears to be moving when we see it reflected in the moving waves.
The modifications of citta, i.e. cognitive mental states are these may be classified under five heads, namely, pramana or true cognidon, viparyaya or false cognition, vikalpa or merely verbal cognidon, nidra or sleep, and smrti or memory.
There are three kinds of true cognition, viz. percepdon, inference and verbal tesdmony. These have been explained in almost the same way as in the Sarikhya.
Viparyaya is the wrong knowledge of objects as what they really are not and it includes doubt or uncertain cognitions.
Vikalpa is a mere verbal idea caused by words, to which no real facts correspond. When you hear the words ‘Rahu’s head,’ you have the idea of a distinction between Rahu and its head, although really there is no distinction between the two, Rahu being only a head.
Similarly, the phrase ‘consciousness of the soul’ arouses the ideas of two different entities (soul and consciousness) related together, whereas in reality there is no distinction between them (soul and consciousness being identical). Sleep (nidra) is another kind of mental modification (cittavrtti).
It is due to the preponderance of tamas in citta and the consequent cessation of waking consciousness and dream experiences.
It thus stands for deep dreamless sleep (susupti). Some philosophers think that in sound sleep there is no mental function or conscious state at all. But this is wrong. On waking from sound sleep we say, ‘I slept well,’ I knew nothing.’ etc.
Such memory of what took place during sleep supposes direct experience of the state of sleep.
So there must be in sleep some cognitive mental state or process which is concerned in the experience of the absence of knowledge (abhavapratyayalambana vrtti). Smrti or memory is the reproduction of past experiences without any alteration or innovation.
All cognitive mental states and processes (citta-vrtti) may be included in these five kinds of modifications. We need not admit any other kinds of cognitive functions of the mind (citta-vrtti).
When citta is modified into any kind of vrtti or cognitive mental state, the self is reflected in it and is apt to appropriate it as a state of itself. Hence it is that it appears to pass through different states of the mind (citta) and stages of life.
It considers itself to be subject to birth and growth, decay and death at different periods of time. It is led to believe that it sleeps and wakes up, imagines and remembers, makes mistakes and corrects errors and so on.
In truth, however, the self (purusa) is above all the happenings of the body and the mind (citta), all physical and psychical changes, like sleeping and waking, birth and death, etc.
It is citta or the mind that really performs these functions of sleeping and waking, knowing and doubting, imagining and remembering.
The self appears to be concerned in these functions because it is reflected in citta or the mind which is held up before it as a mirror before a person. It also appears to be subject to the five klesas or sources of afflictions, namely,
(i) Avidya or wrong knowledge of the non-eternal as eternal, of the not-self as the self, of the unpleasant as the pleasant, and of the impure as pure.
(ii) Asmita, i.e. the false notion or perception of the self as identical with buddhi or the mind.
(iii) Raga or desire for pleasure and the means of its attainment.
(iv) Dvesa or aversion to pain and the causes thereof.
(v) Abhinivesa or the instinctive fear of death in all creatures.
So long as there are changes and modifications in citta, the self is reflected therein and, in the absence of discriminative knowledge, identifies itself with them.
As a consequence, the self feels pleasure or pain out of the objects of the world, and loves or hates them accordingly.
This means bondage for the self. If therefore, we are to attain liberation, we must somehow restrain the activities of the body, the senses and the mind (manas) and finally suppress all the modifications of citta.
When the waves of the empirical consiousness (karya-citta) die down and leave the citta in a state of perfect placidity (karana-citta), the self realises itself as distinct from the mind-body complex and as free, immortal and self-shining intelligence.
It is the aim of yoga to bring about this result through the cessation of the functions of citta.