The Power of the Mind

These are six mantras from the Yajurveda from what is popularly known as ‘The Shivasankalpa Sookta’. These mantras describe the power of the mind and pray for that powerful mind to be driven towards Dh

यज्जाग्रतो  दूरमुदैति  दैवं  तदु  सुप्तस्य  तथैवैति ।

दूरङ्गमं  ज्योतिषां  ज्योतिरेकं  तन्मे  मनः  शिवसङ्कल्पमस्तु ॥ यजुर्वेदः ३४।१ ॥

Meaning – O Lord! This amazing multi-faceted mind of mine, which goes far and fast when I am awake, and similarly goes into the internal world while asleep, this grasper of many facts, this light of lights (the one that ‘lights up’ all the other senses), may it motivate me towards auspicious deeds!   

The mind is a wonderful tool that allows humans to do all kinds of amazing things. However, it can also be subverted into silly or meaningless or evil things. To keep ourselves on the right path we pray to God to encourage us and our minds in the right direction that we may achieve life’s highest goal. 

येन  कर्माण्यपसो  मनीषिणो  यज्ञे  कृण्वन्ति  विदथेषु  धीरः ।

यदपूर्वं  यक्षमन्तः  प्रजानां  तन्मे  मनः  शिवसङ्कल्पमस्तु ॥ यजुर्वेदः ३४।२ ॥

Meaning – O Lord! In the work-arena of life, those involved in action, those who subdue the mind and those who gather knowledge or meditate – they all use the mind to perform their actions. The mind they utilize is unparalleled (in its qualities, actions and nature). It resides inside all creatures and is to be revered. May such a mind motivate me towards auspicious deeds!   

‘Vidatheshu’ implies all the regular business, including even battles, that humans are involved in. ‘Yajne’, on the other hand, refers to actions to acquire knowledge, to control the senses, to perform Yoga including meditation, and, of course, to perform Agnihotra and other Dhaarmika deeds.

The mind is irreplaceable in the body due to its irreplicable properties. Today, we can even replace the heart, but not the brain. For this reason, we should respect the mind and work towards protecting and enhancing it. This is what is meant by ‘reverence’ – not making an image and offering flowers to it! Only when we take care of the mind, will the mind be our friend and take us towards an unblemished life!

यत्  प्रज्ञानमुत  चेतो  धृतिश्च  यज्ज्योतिरन्तरमृतं  प्रजासु ।

यस्मान्न  ऋते  किं  चन  कर्म  क्रियते  तन्मे  मनः  शिवसङ्कल्पमस्तु ॥ यजुर्वेदः ३४।३ ॥

Meaning – O Lord! The mind that generates knowledge, that is conscious (aware of its surroundings and itself), that has memory and emotions, that is the light (volition) inside living beings, that is immortal and without which no action can be performed, may that mind motivate me towards auspicious deeds!   

The verse describes the four parts of the Antahkarana – Antahkarana /Mana (consciousness, receiver and sender of sense and action signals, respectively), Buddhi (intellect), Chitta (memory) and Ahankaara (volition).

येनेदं  भूतं  भुवनं  भविष्यत्  परिगृहीतममृतेन  सर्वम् ।

येन  यज्ञस्तायते  सप्तहोता  तन्मे  मनः  शिवसङ्कल्पमस्तु ॥ यजुर्वेदः ३४।४ ॥

Meaning – O Lord! The eternal mind that grasps fully the past, present and future, and that performs actions (Yajna) along with the soul, the five senses of action and the body (Sapta-hotaa), may that mind motivate me towards auspicious deeds and thoughts!

The verse describes the unique ability of the mind to stitch together the changes in its environment into a time continuum. This is what was taught in Yogadarashana, too – time is but a construct of the mind. Also, it covers the two main functions of the mind – perception and execution. (Note the usage of Yajna and Hotaa here.) 

यस्मिन्नृचः  साम  यजूँषि  यस्मिन्  प्रतिष्ठिता  रथनाभाविवाराः ।

यस्मिँश्चित्तँ  सर्वमोतं  प्रजानां  तन्मे  मनः  शिवसङ्कल्पमस्तु ॥ यजुर्वेदः ३४।५ ॥

Meaning – O Lord! May my mind have the Rg, the Saama, the Yajur and the Atharva Veda installed in it, just as the spokes of a wheel are stuck to its axle. This mind which has the Chitta, that stores all the knowledge gained, strung inside it (like beads in a necklace) in all beings, may that mind gain right knowledge!   

The Chitta, or the memory-store, is linked to all parts of the brain in order to perform a task properly. This is a prayer to gain proper knowledge, particularly that contained in the Vedas.

While Atharva Veda is not explicitly mentioned, the repetition of the word ‘Yasmin’ is an indication that the missing Atharva is also to be included here.

सुषारथिरश्वानिव  यन्मनुष्यान्  नेनीयतेऽभीशुभिर्वाजिन  इव ।

हृत्प्रतिष्ठं  यदजिरं  जविष्ठं  तन्मे  मनः  शिवसङ्कल्पमस्तु ॥ यजुर्वेदः ३४।६ ॥

Meaning –The mind is like the expert charioteer that drives humans (and all other creatures) from one subject to another, controlling the senses, as if controlling fleet-footed horses with reins. It is situated in the heart (=brain), motivates one into sense-objects/deeds, is ageless and the fastest thing in the Universe. O Lord! may that mind motivate me towards auspicious deeds!   

The Upanishads and the Geeta have taken this analogy further. It is a powerful analogy. The mind has tremendous power and can pull attention completely into just one subject, like a charioteer takes the chariot on a narrow path. However, remember that the owner of the chariot remains the soul, and the charioteer obeys its commands. However, if the owner loses all control, the mind can take over and drive the body into reckless deeds.