There is a very clear difference between Indian and Western traditions. In the West, mind was regarded as independent of body but identical with soul. But in Indian tradition, “mind or manas” and “soul or Atman” are distinct, but mind and body are not distinct. This difference between atman and manas is very clear in the Brihadaranyaka and the Taittiriya Upanishad ‘ayamaatmaa vangmayo manomayaha,…’ means that manas or Mind is a state of Atman or Soul. Prana(life) is another state of Atman(soul).
The same Mantra says what manas or Mind is; it is through mind that seeing and listening are possible; mind is desire, will and so on. Thinking, feeling and willing which are regarded as functions of mind are more or less endorsed by the Brihadaranyaka.
Manas is one state of Atma. A state of Atma is called ‘Kosha’. If mind is one state, then body (anna) must be another state of Atma.
The Taittiriya says ‘purushaha annarasa mayaha’ (Purusha is the body-state).
In this case, purusha is the off-short of Atman. If purusha is the body-state then, how can Atman also be in this state? The word off-short can be understood in this way. Atman is ‘transformed’ into Purusha or appears to have been transformed. This transformation is the ‘birth’ of purusha. When this change occurs, Annamaya kosha becomes the outer sheath of Atman. Prana(life), manas(mind), vijnana(science) and Ananda(pleasure) constitute the integrated sheaths. While the first kosha(seath) is at rudimentary level, the last one is at the highest level. In empirical sense, Atman is in bondage in all these five states. Atman should transcend the last state also to attain moksha(nirvana). Moksha only means freedom from bondage. This is what is known as ‘jivanmukti’ or liberation during this lifespan. This is what is called ‘upashantoyam atma’. Obviously; this is something outside pure philosophy. But then it is only through an intensive training in philosophy that moksha can be attained; not otherwise. But the point is that this is the view of Indian philosophers only. It cannot be regarded as a characteristic of philosophy in general.
Now, we shall turn to mind. The states of mind, very interestingly, correlate with the states of matter which physics recognizes today. We shall juxtapose them in the following manner.
* 1) Solid Jagrut (Waking)
* 2) Liquid Swapna (Dream)
* 3) Gas Deep sleep (Sushupti)
* 4) Plasma Turiya (Transcendental)
It should be noted that in both the cases (mind and matter) as we pass from the first stage to the last one, we realise that we pass from ‘concrete’ to ‘abstract’. The last stages of both matter and mind defy description. With regard to mind it is sufficient to distinguish between first three states. In the first state both senses and motor organs are active. In the second state, sense organs become inactive and in the third both sense and motor organs become inactive. What is at the initial stage can be understood easily, but not what is at the final stage, because the last stage is abstract. Same explanation holds good for matter also. The last states of both mind and matter fall outside the scope of common man. Turiya is inexplicable. It only has to be experienced. And the experience of Turiya is possible only for a select few. Consequently, it is something, which cannot be challenged.