This article is a chapter from the book Mind – Its Mysteries and Control.
Vasana (desire in subtle form) is a wave in the mind-lake. Its seat is the Karana Sarira. It exists there in the form of a seed and manifests in the mind-lake. Just as flowers are latent in seeds, Vasanas are latent in the Antahkarana and the Karana Sarira (seed-body). Daily new flowers blossom out. They fade out in a day or two. Similarly, Vasanas blossom out like flowers one by one, come out to the surface of the mind, generate Sankalpas in the mind of Jivas and goad them to strive to possess and enjoy the particular objects of enjoyment. Vasanas cause actions, and actions strengthen the Vasanas. This is a Chakra, vicious circle. On the advent of knowledge of Brahman, all Vasanas are fried out. The real enemies are the Vasanas within. Annihilate them. Eradicate them. They are inveterate.
The whole mango tree with branches, leaves and fruits is contained in a subtle form in the seed. It takes time for manifestation. Even so, the Vasana of lust lurks in the mind when you are a boy, manifests at 18, fills the whole body at 25, works havoc from 25 to 45 and then it gradually declines. Various forms of wrong-doing and mischief are done by human beings between 25 and 45. This is the most critical period of life. There is no particular difference between a boy and a girl in their characteristics when they are young. After attaining puberty they exhibit their characteristic qualities.
Chapalata is Vasana of a mild type. It lasts for a short time only. There are two kinds of important Chapalatas. There is the Jihva-Chapalata of the tongue where the tongue wants to eat the various things every now and then. It is a form of morbid appetite. Rich people who lead a luxurious life have this form of Chapalata. The other variety is the Upastha-Chapalata wherein the sex Indriyas wants to taste again and again the sexual enjoyment (Sparsa).
Vasana is the cause of restlessness of mind. As soon as a Vasana manifests, there is an intimate connection between the mind and the object through overflowing Vishaya-Vritti-Pravaha. The mind will not retrace its steps till it gets the object and enjoys it. The restlessness will continue till the object is enjoyed. The Vritti will flow towards the object till it is obtained and enjoyed. The common run of men cannot resist or suppress any Vasana owing to weak will.
It is the Vasana in the mind that causes attraction towards objects and brings about bondage; with the disappearance of Vasanas, bondage naturally vanishes. There will not be any attraction, admiration or excitement for any object outside, if there is no Vasana inside your mind. It is the Vasana that is at the bottom of all your miseries and troubles. There is no pain from Isvara-Srishti (objects created by the Lord). Water quenches your thirst. Breeze gives you comfort. Sunshine enlivens you. Fire gives warmth. It is Jiva-Srishti that brings about bondage. Ahankara, anger, Abhimana, attachment are all Jiva-Srishtis. Have Suddha Sankalpa, but no Vasanas.
By mere ethical training, jealousy, Raga, Dvesha, Krodha, Kama, etc., can be suppressed though not eradicated completely. These impure, Asubha Vasanas can be considerably attenuated (Tanu-Avastha) by moral culture. They attain a subtle condition. They cannot harm the individual. They remain under perfect control.
A Vasana may be suppressed for the time being by an aspirant. But it again manifests with redoubled force when a suitable opportunity arises. Like a minister obeying the king, the five organs of the body act in accordance with the dictates of the mind. Therefore, you should through your own pure mind and proper efforts eradicate the Vasanas for objects. You should rend asunder, the long rope of Vasanas tied to the vessels of man, whirled on the ocean of Samsara, through enormous efforts on your part. Vasanas should be thoroughly eradicated. If these Vasanas are destroyed by Vichara (enquiry of Atman) and discrimination, the mind which is ever restless will get quiescence like a gheeless lamp.
Vijnanamaya Kosa serves as a great fortress for the aspirant. From there he can attack the Vasanas when they try to emerge from the seed-body (Karana Sarira) into the mind. Through the practice of Sama, the aspirant should destroy the Vasanas one by one with the help of Vijnanamaya Kosa (Buddhi). He should crush them as soon as they try to raise their heads on the surface of the mind-lake. He must not allow them to sprout forth. This is Vasana-Tyaga. This attack or fight is from inside.
When a Vasana or Sankalpa arises in the mind, the mind gives a push to the Antar-Indriya. From the Antar-Indriyas, this push is communicated to the Bahyakaranas (external instruments) such as hands, legs, eyes, ears, etc. The practice of Sama stops this very push which is the root cause of motion of all the Indriyas and Karanas.
Sama is peace of mind produced by the eradication of the Vasanas (Vasana-Tyaga). The Antahkarana of a man who possesses this virtue is cooler than ice. Even the coolness of the moon cannot compete with coolness of the Antahkarana of a man of Sama. Generally, the Antahkarana of a worldling is a blazing furnace. A man of Sama is neither exalted when he gets a desired object (Ishta) nor depressed when he gets an undesired thing (Anishta). He keeps a balanced mind always. He has no enemies. The happiness of an emperor is nothing, nothing when compared with the supreme spiritual bliss of a man of Sama. Sama is one of the four sentinels of Moksha. If you have Sama, you will get the company of the other three friends, viz., Santosha (contentment), Vichara (enquiry into Atman) and Satsanga (association with the wise and saintly).
The attack should commence from outside also. Bahyavritti-Nigraha should be done through Dama (restraint of the Indriyas). You must not allow sense-vibrations to enter from outside into the mind through the avenues of Indriyas. This is also necessary. Sama alone is not sufficient. The senses must be rendered blunt by Dama. The Vasana for sweets, for instance, should be destroyed by Sama through Vasana-Tyaga, by crushing the Vasanas within as soon as a desire arises; and the Bahyavritti, which arises by the sight of sweetmeat should be destroyed by withdrawing the eyes from the same when you move about the bazaar and by giving up taking sugar. Dama supplements Sama in the control of mind. Dama is an auxiliary for the complete eradication of Vasanas.
If you give up an old habit of taking tea, you have controlled to a certain extent the sense of taste. You have destroyed one Vasana. This will give you some peace, because the craving for tea has gone and you are freed from your efforts and thinking in getting tea, sugar, milk, etc. Thinking is pain, seeing is pain, hearing is pain for a philosopher and a Sadhaka. It is all pleasure for a worldling. The energy that was agitating you to run after tea is now transmuted into will. You gain peace and will-power by giving up one thing. If you give up fifteen things, your peace of mind will be still greater and the will still more powerful. This is the fruit of Tyaga. So, you are not a loser in Tyaga. You gain more knowledge, more bliss and more power. You give up something in favour of something higher. Is there anyone who will not give up black sugar in favour of white sugar? If you once control one Vasana, it will be easy for you to control other Vasanas too, because you gain strength and power.
Svadhyaya and Meditation
Increase your Sastra-Vasana in the beginning. Occupy your mind with the study of standard philosophical books. Thereby you can decrease your Deha-Vasana (thought of the body) and Loka-Vasana (desire for name and fame, Kirti, Pratishtha, etc). Later on, you will have to give up Sastra-Vasana also. You must entirely devote all your time and energy in meditation and meditation alone. Vasana-Kshaya (destruction of Vasanas) is caused through well-conducted deliberation (Vichara), Brahma-Dhyana, Vairagya and Tyaga.
Vichara and Brahma-Bhavana
The wise know that the mind associated with Vasana tends to bondage while the mind absolutely free from Vasana is said to be an emancipated one. Just as a lion that is shut up in a cage emerges out by breaking the bars of the cage, so also a Jnani comes out of this cage of physical body victoriously by breaking or by destroying the Vasanas of the mind through constant Vichara (Atmic enquiry), constant Nididhyasana (profound and constant meditation on ‘OM’ and its meaning) and Brahma-Bhavana. The more you attenuate your Vasanas by Svarupa-Bhavana or the Brahma-Bhavana, the happier you will become. In proportion to the thinning of the Vasanas, the mind also is proportionately thinned out. Mind is nothing but a bundle of Vasanas. Mind is no other than the Vasanas which generate an endless series of rebirths. The true nature of the mind is the Vasanas. The two are synonymous.
Conquest of Ahankara
If you destroy egoism (Ahankara, this false little ‘I’) and control the Indriyas (the senses), the Vasanas will die by themselves. The root cause for all troubles is Ahankara. Just as the dependants of a family hang upon the chief of the house—the father—similarly, all Vasanas, Trishnas, Kamanas, etc., hang upon Ahankara, the chief of this house-body.
Constantly generate from the Sattvic mind-battery the Akhanda electric current ‘Aham Brahmasmi’-Vritti (Brahmakara Vritti). That is the potent antidote. Keep it safe in the pocket; smell it when an apoplectic attack of the Ahankaric false ‘I’ idea overcomes you. It is only when you eradicate the painful Ahankara of the mind and conquer the foes of organs (Indriyas) that the ever-waking Vasanas will subside.
The illusory Samsaric Vasanas that have arisen through the practice of many hundreds of lives never perish except through the practice of Yoga for a long time. Therefore, O Aspirants! After having put away at a distance the desire of enjoyment by discriminative efforts, practise the state of mind absolutely devoid of Vasana.
Moksha does not mean physical separation from all worldly affairs, but only a state of mind bereft of all impure Vasanas or clinging to worldly things, but yet working as usual amidst them. You must realise God in and through the world. This is the central teaching of the Gita. “But the disciplined (lower) self, moving among sense-objects with senses free from attraction and repulsion and mastered by the higher Self, goeth to Peace” (Gita. 11-64). This is the central teaching of Yoga Vasishtha also.
There is no Vasana in Brahman. Complete annihilation of the Vasanas takes place only in Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Only Nirvikalpa Samadhi can completely fry up the seeds of impure Vasanas. Through the knowledge of Brahman, there will be an extinction of all Vasanas, which form the medium of enjoyments. With the extinction of all Vasanas, the undaunted mind will get quiescence like a gheeless lamp.