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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Antahkaraṇa literally means ‘the inner instrument’.

The general name by which mind is known in the scriptural works is ‘antahkaraṇa,’ the ‘inner (antah) instrument (karaṇa).’ Even though the external sense-organs like the eye or the ear are functioning, no cognition becomes possible unless the mind is connected with them. This is the significance of the name.

There are three states of consciousness:

  1. Jāgrat - Waking state
  2. Svapna - Dream state
  3. Suśupti - Deep sleep state

The antahkaraṇa is actively functioning in the first two state and dormant in the third state.

This antahkaraṇa functions in four different ways and gets four different names according to the functions. While functioning as the receptive and retentive faculty it is called ‘citta’ or mind-stuff; as the questioning, doubting and willing faculty, it is called ‘manas’ or mind; as the deciding faculty it is called ‘buddhi’ or intelligence; and as the identifying faculty which identifies itself with each of these functions and it is called ‘ahaṅkāra’ or the ego.

These words are sometimes used to mean the antahkaraṇa or mind as a whole and sometimes mean the particular faculty indicated. The sense in which they are used has to be made out from the context.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore