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Ahaṁkāra (Sanskrit: अहंकार), 'I-making', is a Sanskrit term in Saṃkhyā philosophy that refers to the identification of Self or Being with 'nature' or any impermanent 'thing'.[1]

Reference in Bhagavad Gita

Ahaṁkāra is one of the four parts of the antahkarana (inner organ) described in Vedanta, while the other three parts include Buddhi, Citta and Manas.[2] In the Uttara Mimamsa or Vedanta branch of Hindu philosophy, though not extensively discussed in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna informs Arjuna that Ahaṁkāra must be removed. Krishna mentions that "Air, water, earth, fire, sky, mind, intelligence and ahankaar (ego) together constitute the nature created by me." [3] In other words, Ahaṁkāra should be subordinated to the Lord. The reasoning provided was that since the Self is not (cannot be) perceived when one is in a state of Ahaṁkāra, it must be removed.[4]

Philosophical implications

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Vedic philosophy also teaches that when one's mind is in a state of Ahaṁkāra, one is in a state of subjective illusion, where the mind is bound the concept of one's self with an external thing. This thing can be tangible and material or it can be a concept, such as the concept of the fight for peace. Here, the ego is involved in constructing the illusion.

Examples of ahaṃkāra in action:

Consider how an otherwise sensible young man might feel that his new sports car was a reflection of his true self which would encourage him to recklessly race against another person. Similarly, consider how someone who believed in the fight for peace, and who ordinarily might behave in a non-violent manner, fought for someone who threatened or challenged their notions of peace.

In both cases, the mind has created a state of illusion that seems to appear real to the person which blurs the line between subjectivity and reality. This illusory state is often causes people to do things that can be categorized as "out of character" for them.

Ahaṁkāra and Spiritual Development

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Though Ahaṁkāra is generally a state of illusion, Vak tattva (one of the 36 tattvas) can appear when one does not succumb to it. In Vak tattva, the individual’s will, determination, sense of morality and ethics come into play, which is the first step on the path to spiritual development or even, enlightenment. However, a person who is sufficiently harmonious but has a powerful Ahaṁkāra (personality) is thought to be impossible to exert the level of effort necessary to accede to a higher spiritual level.

Ahaṁkāra and Buddhi

The position of Ahaṁkāra and buddhi are sometimes presented in a reversed order because, as the principle of "I-ness", the Ahaṁkāra is allowed control over the manas (sensorial mind) and buddhi (superior intellect, intuition). Yet, buddhi is a superior tattva, and Ahaṁkāra is thus only able to be in a superior position to buddhi from a functional point of view. From an absolute point of view, Ahaṁkāra is created by buddhi and thus subordinate to it.

See also

Jainism

References

  1. ^ "Ahaṁkāra", Britannica Academic Edition
  2. ^ "What is Antahkarana? - Definition from Yogapedia". Yogapedia.com. Retrieved 2021-11-05.
  3. ^ "Bhagavad Gita As It Is Original by Prabhupada". asitis.com. Retrieved 2021-11-05.
  4. ^ Mukundananda, Swami. "Chapter 18 – Bhagavad Gita, The Song of God – Swami Mukundananda". www.holy-bhagavad-gita.org. Retrieved 2021-11-05.