chitta = all that is mutable in human beings; thoughts
vṛitti = thought-wave; mental modification; mental whirlpool; a ripple in the chitta.
Chitta: aligning perception with the truth
Chitta can be compared to a veil. Every perception is filtered through the veil and for a viewer from veil, the entire world takes on the color of the veil. Also from different colors veils, world is also of the different colors. Of course the world hasn’t changed, only your take on it. When you see the world through the red “veil” it will be red and when you’ve got yellow, you see the world through the “veil” of yellow color. Veils are our own perceptions, actually. How the world is, it always is on our own perceptions, though we may not be aware of it. Our perceptions of the world are skewed. The truth you perceive, will be conditioned by which types of mindsets you happen to be in. Perceiving the world as it actually is yoga. The purpose of yoga is to lift this veil – and thus give you the gift of truth. Only when this veil has been lifted, can you begin to genuinely perceive reality and yourself.
Chitta is often translated as mind or spirit but in a deep view chitta encompasses everything that affects our perceptions and by extension is our body.
A vritti alters perception like a misconception, or as waves on the surface of a pond obscure or distort our view of the bottom.
Vritti: misconceptions with many ramifications
Vritti, which literally means “waves,” refers to all elements that can affect mutable chitta.
Vrittis alter perception much as misconceptions do. For example, we tend to reach conclusions concerning a person’s occupation based on their outer appearance, i.e. a person wearing overalls is presumed to be a carpenter, house-painter or the like; and a person in a white coat is presumed to be a doctor, pharmacist or the like. And thus we’re unlikely to pay close attention to a person in overalls if they give us advice on how to deal with diabetes. But this is a mistake, since we have no way of knowing whether this person is really a doctor or not.
The chitt(mind) has three primary gunas (qualities) emerge creating the essential aspects of all nature—energy, matter and consciousness.
These three gunas are –
1) Sattva (beingness, Transcendence)–intelligence, imparts balance
2) Rajas (activity)–energy, causes imbalance
3) Tamas (darkness)–substance, creates inertia
All three gunas are always present in all beings and objects surrounding us but vary in their relative amounts. There is no physical entity without all these three dimensions. Not a single atom is free of these three dimensions of a certain static nature, of energy, and of vibrance. If these three elements are not there, you cannot hold anything together – it will break up. If it is just sattva, you won’t remain here for a moment – you will be gone. If it is just rajas, it’s not going to work. If it’s just tamas, you will be asleep all the time. So, these three qualities are present in everything. All objects in the universe consist of various combinations of the three gunas.
The gunas cannot be separated or removed in oneself, but can be consciously acted upon to encourage their increase or decrease. A guna can be increased or decreased through the interaction and influence of external objects, lifestyle practices and thoughts. We humans have the unique ability to consciously alter the levels of the gunas in our bodies and minds
According to Yoga and Ayurveda, these three primal qualities are the main powers of Cosmic Intelligence that determine our spiritual growth. The Cosmic evolution consists of their mutual interaction and transformation. Also wrongly understood they keep us in bondage to the external world.
There are three Vrittis in the mind corresponding to the three Gunas.
- Sattvik/Sattvic Vritti = Equilibrium /balance, comes out of Sattva Guna,
- Rajasi Vritti = anger, comes out of Rajo Guna
- Tamasi Vritti = laziness(Alasya), carelessness (Pramada) and drowsiness (Tandri), comes out of Tamo Guna.
We have to reduce Raajasi and Taamasi Vritti and have to develop Sattvik vritti to improve our cosmic level and to achieve a real truth of the life.
Mental Constitution Chart for three chitta vritti people
|Activities||Sattvik chitta vritti||Rajasi chitta vritti||Tamasi chitta vritti|
|Diet||Vegetarian||Some meat||Heavy meat diet|
|Sensory impressions||Calm, pure||Mixed||Disturbed|
|Need for sleep||Little||Moderate||High|
|Control of senses||Good||Moderate||Weak|
|Speech||Calm and peaceful||Agitated||Dull|
|Work||Selfless||For personal goals||Lazy|
|Love||Universal||Personal||Lacking in love|
|Attachment to money||Little||Some||A lot|
|Forgiveness||Easily||With effort||Holds grudges|
|Truthfulness||Always||Most of the time||Rarely|
|Honesty||Always||Most of the time||Rarely|
|Peace of mind||Generally||Partly||Rarely|
For more details about these three gunas or three Vrittis and their characteristics, visit our other posts –