What are "Vasanas" ?

Discussion in 'Chitvish on Hindu Culture & Vedanta' started by Chitvish, Jan 10, 2008.

  1. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    When we perceive an object or try to evaluate a situation, the sense organs (jnanendriyas) bring in their reports first. Then our mind compiles and presents to the intellect for final judgement. But the very ability to judge arises from thinking and rationalizing. The intellect is conditioned by a factor in us which the modern psychologists call the Unconscious.

    This unconscious is composed of impressions, the personality has gathered from its own thoughts and actions in the past. These impressions were called Vasanas in our Hindu scriptures. Vasanas are the result of the past. What we did in the past are the causes of the present vasanas.
    Vasana is the cause and action is the effect.
    Again,
    Action becomes the cause and vasana, the effect.
    Thus it goes on like the phenomenon of egg and chick.

    Vasana is the seed of action, but unmanifest. Each vasana manifests as an action.
    The unmanifest vasana is dormant in our potential nature.
    In the first stage, they first appear as thoughts in our intellect. So we see that our present vasanas entertain our thoughts.
    In the second stage , vasanas express as desires in our mind. So again, our desires will be the nature of our vasanas.

    So vasanas exhibit as
    Desire in the mind
    And then
    Act at body levels.

    If a man is a drunkard, he has drink-vasanas and grabs a bottle of whisky immediately. One can be a singer or a carpenter, as a result of his vasanas.
    So long as the vasanas exist, we think, desire and act according to them. Every one of us is undeniably an expression of our past – our vasanas.
    The total exhaustion of vasanas is the exalted state of Self-realisation.

    These vasanas are to be intelligently eliminated. If the vasanas are healthy ones, the problems get easily solved.
    Vasanas produce our inherent nature. Our intellect is a product of vasanas.
    They must be first purified and exhausted through appropriate actions.
    The basic material composing thee human personality is vasanas. Let us deal with an example.
    In the temple, the deity is in the innermost sanctum. That is dark. A small lamp burns there. The priest lights a piece of camphor from it and now the darkness is dispelled. Light is revealed and the deity is well seen by the devotee.
    The temple represents the human being and the deity, the Atma, the supreme Self within you. The Self is not known to us. So to reach the self, one must cross through the various layers of one’s personality. When we reach the inner core, we get the knowledge of Self.

    Vasana, in Sanskrit, means scent. If our vasanas are good, we are pleasant and if it is bad, we are foul.Thus we see that vasanas produce our personality traits. Though vasanas ar insubstantial, they do make up the substantial human form. The preceptor helps us burn our vasanas in the fire of knowledge and this leads us to Self-realisation.

    Unlike an animal, a human being has the freedom of action independence because he has the unique faculty of self-effort. This can modify or change the pattern of vasanas.
    So we can purify ourselves from unpleasant vasanas because individual perfection alone can lead to world perfection.

    Now, how best can we individually purify our actions and redeem ourselves from the compelling encrustations of vasanas ? The technique advised in Gita is Karma Yoga – the way of performing all actions in an attitude of selfless dedication to a desirable goal. That is the subtle technique of re-tuning our shattered mind-intellect equipment.

    Love,
    Chithra.
     
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  2. Kamla

    Kamla IL Hall of Fame

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    The more thought we put in to this 'self' and how to attain freedom from the karmas , the more impossible it sounds to me. There does not seem to be any danger of the mankind dying in any foreseeable future! Looks like all of us are entwined in this web of vasanas and karmas for eons to come, moksham just being an intangible reality!...
    ...Or...am I being just feeble and skeptical Chithra??:)
    Whatever you may say...Here I go again and get myself entangled in another vasana...the vasana to read Chithra's posts on Vedanta!

    L, Kamla.............as usual, excellently written Chithra!
     
  3. Anandchitra

    Anandchitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Chithra
    Thanks for writing this important and useful thread.
    One of the things that I look out and search for as soon as I start reading is about the remedy..so I was glad to read the lines about the karma yoga..
    however I have a question on that line where you say performing actions in an attitude of selfless dedication to a desirable goal - how can the action be selfless when the goal is desired (desirable goal) the desire that it inherent there will make the action selfish?
    This is my thinking so please be kind to clarify.
    The vasanas have been explained with a high level of indepth clarity. Thank you again.
     
  4. Shanvy

    Shanvy IL Hall of Fame

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    Chithmam,

    Vasanas a nice topic.......

    To sum up my understanding...

    Actions are like the ice that is formed from water, the desire is like the water that is in a container that can take the shape of the container..but vasanas are like the water vapour in the air, that are present but yet subtle...and need some catalyst to bring it back to other forms...that is water....

    The vasanas undergo transformation at the level of the intellect into thoughts. The thoughts in turn undergo transformation at the level of the mind into desires; and the desires undergo transformation at the level of the physical body into actions.

    Ramana maharshi says "
    Acts performed without any attachment and in the spirit of service to God, cleanse the mind and point the way to salvation" the same karma yoga right.??

    Here i would like to share one more thought from Mata Amrithanandamayi...in one of her lectures to people with families...
    "Family life allows us to conquer our vasanas. Don't drown in the vasanas; understand what they are and go beyond them. We will reach our goal only if we become completely detached from the vasanas. We feel satisfied after enjoying our fill of payasam, but a little later, we want twice as much. Once we understand the true nature of this yearning, the mind will not go after it. Would anyone touch the payasam if a lizard fell into it?”

    “When the vasanas pull us towards them, the mind will resist if it knows that they are not the source of real joy, and that they will only bring us sorrow. But this knowledge has to be firmly planted in the mind and intellect. Don't let your lives go to waste, children, by being slaves to your minds! Don't barter away a priceless jewel for a piece of candy. Our minds will quiet down if we stop giving as much importance to sensory pleasures as we do now.”

    When I read this some time back, I was wondering how simply she has told us not to get too involved with vasanas..but the human mind today is fully covered with it...may be with practice you come to control it...

    All of them are telling us about karma yoga right...in their own way...
    hope i am on the right track..
     
  5. Anandchitra

    Anandchitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Shanthi
    very good reply ..you have helped clarify a some doubts in my mind..
    I still remember meeting Mata one day..my friend took me with her..she was very close to amma so we were able to spend lot of time in close proximity..that time my son was maybe 3 or so yrs old. when amma gave him a candy he refused to take from her but she didnt let him go..went on playing till he took it..her embrace..words cannot describe amma and her love
    you have quoted from 2 greats..I am indeed blessed to be reading this thread tonight
    One thing I have noticed from experience which I think will be appropriate to share in this forum.. I find that repeated reading of spiritual texts or religious books brings our mind into focus and keeps us in focus as we go about our daily lives.
    Thanks to all.
     
  6. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    Dearest Kamla,
    First Fb, like "good old days" ! Thankyou very much.
    You are a little skeptical, naturally & undeniably, but very practical !
    Yes, vasanas & karmas go on endlessly for janmas to come.
    As I repeat time & again, awarness of all this is the first step and let us thank God that we are on the right track and have made a beginning in this janma.
    Let me tell you, it is your vasanas that make you read this sub-forum and my posts here. Is it not proof, when just a handful are interested in coming here when the no: of members has exceeded 14, 000 plus !
    Love,
    Chithra.



     
  7. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear AC,
    As usual, you are so prompt - thankyou.
    Love to fulfill a desire is natural; hence the goal is desirable to us. But you must engross yourself in the completion of the action to your best extent & be selfless in your thinking whether the goals will be achieved at all. There should be more pleasure and selflessness in carrying out the action.
    For example, every post I write here - I want, say, atleast 10 % of the ILites to read it, That is my desire. But hardly 0.5 % read it, perhaps. But sill I have to train my mind to be selfless & not be bothered about the no: of views or feedbacks. I have to learn to enjoy writing the same (desirable), without concentrating on the no: (selfless).
    I have written about vasanas, more as a prelude to the next portions in Ch 2 to come. Karmayoga will unfold itself beautifully, when your understanding will also improve.
    Love,
    Chithra.





     
  8. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Shan,
    Thanks a ton. Yes, you are on the right track & carried it on, further.
    When undesirable vasanas surface, we have to use our self-will to overcome them, though not easily done. Butthat is where our self-will should come to the fore.
    Thanks for also clarifying AC's doubts !
    Love,
    Chithra.




     
  9. Shanvy

    Shanvy IL Hall of Fame

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    Chithmam,

    When I started writing my FB's, there were no fb's. only when i posted them found kamla and AC have already posted (so imagine how long it took me to write my fb)

    My understanding has helped AC, i am happy..but thanks to your original post which made me think, and bring back all those thing i have been reading...as AC says the more we discuss, the more we understand...what looked like so difficult when i read Ramanar, looked a little easy when i read amrithama, then now it looks like it will be more easier...if only i use by self control and will....
     
  10. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Shan
    Thanks again.
    Before going on to Karma Yoga, I just wanted to give a sort of prelude for better understanding.
    I have already posted
    What is Karma-Yoga ?
    That was with reference to Vedanta in general. Now, next I will post , in particular with reference to Gita. Infact we will discuss much more in detail in 3rd chapter which is titled Karma Yoga.
    I want to go, rather build up, very gradually.
    Love,
    Chithra.
     

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