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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

Vasanas are innate sa@mskaras not acquired in this life

"_tasmims'ca darpane sphare samasta vastudrstayah imastah pratibimbanti sarasiva tatadrumah_" _Yogavarttika_, I. 4.

The buddhi assumes the form of the object which is reflected on it by the senses, or rather the mind flows out through the senses to the external objects and assumes their forms: "_indriyanyeva pranalika cittasancaranamargah taih samyujya tadgola kadvara bahyavastusuparaktasya cittasyendryasahityenaivarthakarah parinamo bhavati_" _Yogavarttika_, I. VI. 7. Contrast _Tattvakaumudi_, 27 and 30.]


Apart from the perceptions and the life-functions, buddhi, or rather citta as Yoga describes it, contains within it the root impressions (_sa@mskaras_) and the tastes and instincts or tendencies of all past lives (_vasana_) [Footnote ref 1]. These sa@mskaras are revived under suitable associations. Every man had had infinite numbers of births in their past lives as man and as some animal. In all these lives the same citta was always following him. The citta has thus collected within itself the instincts and tendencies of all those different animal lives. It is knotted with these vasanas like a net. If a man passes into a dog life by rebirth, the vasanas of a dog life, which the man must have had in some of his previous infinite number of births, are revived, and the man's tendencies become like those of a dog. He forgets the experiences of his previous life and becomes

attached to enjoyment in the manner of a dog. It is by the revival of the vasana suitable to each particular birth that there cannot be any collision such as might have occurred if the instincts and tendencies of a previous dog-life were active when any one was born as man.

The sa@mskaras represent the root impressions by which any habit of life that man has lived through, or any pleasure in which he took delight for some time, or any passions which were


[Footnote 1: The word sa@mskara is used by Pa@nini who probably preceded Buddha in three different senses (1) improving a thing as distinguished from generating a new quality (_Sata utkar@sadhana@m sa@mskara@h_, Kas'ila on Pa@nini, VI. ii. 16), (2) conglomeration or aggregation, and (3) adornment (Pa@nini, VI. i. 137, 138). In the Pi@takas the word sa@nkhara is used in various senses such as constructing, preparing, perfecting, embellishing, aggregation, matter, karma, the skandhas (collected by Childers). In fact sa@nkhara stands for almost anything of which impermanence could be predicated. But in spite of so many diversities of meaning I venture to suggest that the meaning of aggregation (_samavaya_ of Pa@nini) is prominent. The word _sa@mskaroti_ is used in Kau@sitaki, II. 6, Chandogya IV. xvi. 2, 3, 4, viii. 8, 5, and B@rhadara@nyaka, VI. iii. 1, in the sense of improving. I have not yet come across any literary use of the second meaning in Sanskrit. The meaning of sa@mskara in Hindu philosophy is altogether different. It means the impressions (which exist subconsciously in the mind) of the objects experienced. All our experiences whether cognitive, emotional or conative exist in subconscious states and may under suitable conditions be reproduced as memory (sm@rti). The word vasana (_Yoga sutra_, IV. 24) seems to be a later word. The earlier Upanis@sads do not mention it and so far as I know it is not mentioned in the Pali pi@takas. _Abhidhanappadipika_ of Moggallana mentions it, and it occurs in the Muktika Upani@sad. It comes from the root "_vas_" to stay. It is often loosely used in the sense of sa@mskara, and in _Vyasabha@sya_ they are identified in IV. 9. But vasana generally refers to the tendencies of past lives most of which lie dormant in the mind. Only those appear which can find scope in this life. But sa@mskaras are the sub-conscious states which are being constantly generated by experience. Vasanas are innate sa@mskaras not acquired in this life. See _Vyasabha@sya, Tattvavais'aradi_ and _Yogavarttika_, II. 13.]

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