He who dwells in the subconscious mind or Chitta, and in memory, and who is within this memory, whom the Chitta and memory do not know, whose body is the memory (and subconscious mind), who rules the memory and Chitta from within, is thy Self, Inner Ruler (immortal Atman, Antaryami, Amritam). My silent adorations and prostrations to the Inner Ruler!
Memory-culture is very, very important. It brings success in God-realisation as well. A forgetful man always fails in his endeavours. The manager gets displeased with a forgetful clerk. A forgetful man commits serious mistakes again and again. A man with strong and retentive memory gets sanguine success in all his ventures and undertakings. He who has memory can conduct his business-affairs very successfully, remember credits and debits, and keep accounts in a satisfactory manner. A student who has a retentive memory will get success in all his examinations. Intelligence is only one-tenth of memory.
The Sanskrit term for memory is Smriti. Smarana is remembering. This is the function of the subconscious mind or Chitta. The Samskaras of thinking and acting are deeply impressed in the Chitta. The Chitta is like the sensitive plate of a camera. It is like the sensitive plate of a gramophone. All the impressions are indelibly recorded there. Whenever you make an attempt to remember the past events or things, they come back to the surface of the conscious mind through the trap-door. Just as a prisoner comes out of the jail through a small door in the big main gate, so also the impressions come out through the trap-door in the form of big waves of thought or mental image. If you have a clairvoyant vision or astral eye, you can clearly watch all subterranean movements of these images in the subterranean workshop of the mind or the underground mental factory. The term ‘memory’ is used in two senses. We say, “Mr. John has got a good memory.” Here it means that Mr. John’s capacity of the mind to store up its past experiences is very good. Sometimes you say, “I have no memory of that incident.” Here it means you cannot bring out to the surface of the conscious mind, in its original form, the incident that occurred some years ago. It is an act of remembering.
If the experience is fresh, you can have a complete recall of your past experience through memory. You cannot get any new knowledge through memory. It is only a repetition.
In ordinary recollection, there is a temporal coefficient. In personal memory, there is a specific coefficient. That which acts together with another is a coefficient. In mathematics, the numerical or literal factor prefixed to an unknown quantity in an algebraic term is coefficient.
Suppose you have received a nice fan as a present from your friend. When you use the fan, it sometimes reminds you of your friend. You think of him for a short time. This fan serves a cause for memory (Udbodhaka or Smriti-hetu).
The following are the four characteristics of good memory: (i) If you read once a passage and if you can reproduce the same nicely, it is a sign to indicate that you have a good memory. This is termed Sugamata. (ii) If you can reproduce the same thing without increase or decrease (addition or subtraction), it is called Avaikalya. (iii) If you can preserve a fact or passage or anything for a very considerable period, it is called retentive memory, Dharana. (iv) If you can reproduce a passage at once without any difficulty when it is needed, it is called Upaharana.
If your brother is a coward, the sight of a similar man in another place will bring to your mind the memory of your brother. This memory is due to similarity of objects (Sadrishata).
Suppose you have seen a dwarf at Madras. When you see a very tall man or Patagonian, this will remind you of the dwarf whom you saw at Madras. The sight of a big palace will remind you of a peasant’s hut or a Sannyasin’s grass Kutir on the banks of the Ganga. The memory is due to dissimilarity in objects (Viparitata).
When you walk along the road on a stormy day and happen to see a fallen tree, you conclude that the tree has fallen owing to the storm. In this case, the memory is due to the relation between cause and effect (Karya-Karana-Sambandha).
A knowledge of the working of the subconscious mind is very necessary for those who want to develop their memory. Most of the mental operations take place in the subconscious mind. The conscious mind takes some rest, but the subconscious mind works throughout the twenty-four hours. It is the subconscious mind that brings the answer like a flash of lightning in the early morning, when you fail to get a solution at night even though you rack your brain for hours and hours together. It is again the subconscious mind that wakes you up in the morning when you go to sleep with a firm resolve: “I should catch the train at 3 a.m.” It is a most faithful servant, provided you know the technique of manipulating it in a masterly manner. You can extract tremendous work from it. All the prodigies, or intellectual giants of the world, know the act of handling and tapping this portion of the mind. The Chitta analyses, sorts, arranges facts and figures, takes out all old records from the various pigeon-holes of the mind, and produces in the early morning or at any time a clear balance-sheet of facts for your perusal and review. Before you retire to bed, give orders to the Chitta to do any kind of work. It will keep the answer ready in the early morning. When you are in a dilemma, when you are at your wits’ end and confused, when you do not know how to solve a serious problem, give orders to the Chitta–a definite command–placing before it the nature of your difficulty. In the morning at 4 a.m., you will have an unambiguous answer. Do this. Practise this. Then only you will have wonderful conviction and strength. You will find a very reliable friend in the subconscious mind.
A man of strong and retentive memory can turn out tremendous work in the twinkling of an eye. He can master any subject or art in a short time. Dr. Samuel Johnson used to repeat passages after passages in a few minutes, by committing them to memory. His mother was quite astonished. She used to ask him: “Johnson, my dear child, get this passage by heart.” Before she would ascend the staircase, he would follow her and say, “Mamma, mamma, I know this by heart.” He would then repeat them then and there. What a wonderful memory Johnson had! What one man has achieved can also be achieved by another: this is an immutable law of nature.
If you read the introduction of ‘Pranava Vada’ written by Sri Babu Bhagawan Das of Varanasi, you will find that he collected all the materials for his big book in three volumes by hearing the recitation from a Pandit who was blind from his very birth and who knew the contents of many books by heart. He knew the numbers of the pages also. You go to Bakshi Sur who lives in a village in Lakhimpur-Kheri in Uttar Pradesh. He has a wonderful memory. He is a blind man from his birth. He can quote all the verses from Surdas and Tulsidas. He can quote the page numbers, too. How he learnt this, how he committed this to memory, is a wonder of wonders today!
In olden days, Sanskrit scholars got by heart all the Vedas. The Gurukula system of education has its own advantages. It develops memory to a very marvellous extent. Even now there is a Sanskrit Pandit in Varanasi who has committed to memory the whole of the Upanishads, the Gita, the Brahma Sutras, Khandana Khadyam, Chit Sukhi and Advaita Siddhi, the greatest monumental work on Vedanta. There are small boys in the Darshana Maha Vidyalaya of Sri Raghavachari in Rishikesh who have committed to memory the eighteen chapters of the Gita. The Gurukula system of education is wonderful. The students of modern universities cannot compete with the students of the Gurukula system.
Brahmacharya, dietetic adjustment, and discipline of Indriyas are very essential for developing memory. The seminal energy has a direct, intimate connection with the cells of the Chitta and brain. You should try your extreme level best to preserve every drop of your vital fluid. Bad memory is due largely to heavy losses of this life-giving energy. Young school and college students do not realise the vital importance of Brahmacharya. They grope in utter darkness. Their minds are filled with passion by daily looking at the nude pictures and embraces in the film-shows. They indulge in novel-reading that excites passion. They always seek bad company. They are conceited, arrogant and self-willed. They never care to approach the sages who can give them inspiring lessons on the science of the Self, memory-culture and conquest of passion. They eat whatever they like. They have no idea of Sattvic diet and the effects of unwholesome food on the different compartments of the brain. They have no knowledge of discipline of Indriyas (senses) and the science of dietetics. Hence they fall and fall miserably too, in their lives and lead a cheerless, gloomy life in darkness and despair. This is their only mistake. Those who are careful in Brahmacharya and food, those who have Satsanga with Sadhus and Sannyasins, are always quite safe. They become successful in their lives. Even if they commit mistakes, they are then and there corrected by wise men.
There are Udbodhakas or Smriti-hetus that bring things to memory. The sight of a wrist-watch brings the recollection of your friend who presented a wrist-watch to you. The law of association is of immense help in developing your memory. The remembrance of a word that ends in ‘ity’, such as ‘cupidity’, ‘avidity’, etc., will bring to memory other words such as ‘stupidity’, ‘superiority’, ‘inferiority’, etc. The remembrance of a word that ends in ‘tic’, such as ‘romantic’, will bring to memory other words as ‘fantastic’. In this way, you can remember things. You will have to group things like this in the various pigeon-holes of your brain. Connect one thing or event with another of a like nature. Then all these things will come back to your memory quite readily and willingly.