MAN or mana, from Skt. manas (mind or psyche), is one of the major operational con cepts in Indian thought involved in the process of apprehending facts and reacting to situations and stimuli, as also the cause of bandh (bondage/attachment). `Mind` is the nearest English rendering of `man`, though the two are not perfectly synonymous, Whereas `mind` is a comprehensive term subsuming all mental functions, man has a narrower connotation in that its functions mainly relate to (i) the indns (sense organs and motor organs) and (ii) emotions, such as sukh (pleasure) and dukh (pain), hit (good) and ahit (bad), grief and anger.

Numerous terms have, almost interchangeably, been used in gurbdm for man.These include chit (scat of consciousness), hirda, hia or hiara (lit. the heart), jia or jio (lit. life principle), and mati (intellect). Chit seems to have a wider connotation embracing consciousness, awareness, perception, congnition, memory and thinking. Hirda and its synonyms denote, in particular, the emotive states of the mind. Jia or jio, as in sahasai jiu matinu hai, doubt pollutes the mind (GG.919), is symbolic of man. Mati (intellect, counsel) though considered distinct from man, as in tirthai ghanai surti mati mani budh (GG,8), at times seems to denote man itself, as in mati vichi ratan javhar manik (GG,2).

As a specific term, man refers to its initial contact with visha (object), i.e. perception.In a given kriyd (act or process), man is called smriti at the level of recall, buddh(i) at the level of deliberation and decision, and drirhta in the moderation of the act or resoluteness. Two divergent views are found in the Indian philosophical thought regarding the nature of man (manas). One view considers it to be an evolute of the five elements (panchbhuta), whereas the other holds it to be non-panchbhutik (nonmaterial). Both these views find expression in gurbam.

The assertion ihu manu Ranch tatu tejanamathis mind has evolved from the five material elements (GG,4l5), alludes to its material origins. What it signifies, in reality, is that man comes into being only when pure consciousness or atma comes in contact with the material body.On the other hand, statements such as man tun joti sarup hai 0 man, you are of the nature of light, i.e. consciousness (GG,44l), proclaim it to be non-panchbhutik. However, in essence, a statement of this nature only signifies that man does not come into being unless the material body is inhabited by conscious atma, which is the real karta (doer) and bhogta (experiencer).

These two positions are only apparently antithetical. Man, in fact, is the joint product of sentient atma and the insentient body. It has also been looked upon as the yoking principle between atma and shanr (physical body). Outward pursuit is the usual occupation of man.Through the five sense organs (gian mans) it receives impressions from the external world, and through the agency of the five organs of action (karma indris) it operates upon it. Thus, it is at once the perceiver of the environment as well as the inspirer and director of man`s conscious activity.

Impelled by its material source, the mind or man serves the ends of the physical body, protecting and nurturing it, and devising for its relishes (ras sarirke) and enjoyments (bhog). Yet, it is not entirely material in its makeup. It is able to discriminate between good (hit) and bad (ahif) and so become its own critic.That is why man has been called karma (the doer) as well as dharma (the valuer) ihu manu karma, ihu manu dharma (GG,415). In its outward material pursuits, it is less conscious (giata) and more ignorant (agidni); less sentient (chetan) and more stupid (murk); less discriminative (bibeki} and more stolid (jar), and prone to be misled by illusion or sense of individuation (maya).

Overbrimming with egoism (haumai), it runs outwards to annex to itself things and relations in greedy pursuits. Shuffling continually between hopes (asa) and desires (manasa), it is fickle and scattered. Tossed about by doubt (sansa) and delusion (bharam), it is restless (ashant}.Agitated by anxious concerns (chinta), it lives in continual fear and anxiety. Bounced by craving (rag) and aversion (dvesh), it is inconstant and capricious. At times, it rises to the heavens; at times it sinks to the Hades: kabahu jiara ubhi charatu hai kabahu jai paidle (GG,H76). The infinite series of mental activities (birds) spell its protean nature.

Its counsel (manmat) is generally base and demeaning. Heeding it, one becomes a self willed, self opinionated and egocentred individual (manmukh}. If, however, under the guru`s instruction (gurmat), this mind, man, were to withdraw from its outward pursuit and become at home with itself, it will overcome all the disturbances caused by the external world, and it will merge with the mighty deep of the atma lying within it.It is thus that it discovers itself as pure consciousness, aware of nothing but its own self. It is only then that all ignorance is shed from man and it stands illumined by its own inner light.

All conditioning disappears; all the fetters fall off. Man becomes conversant with its own renascent resplendence. Guru Ram Das likens the mind in its purity to the innocent baby residing in the township of the body (GG,ll9l). Such withdrawal from without, this return home occurring at the guru`s bidding, makes one a God centered or Guru oriented (gurmukh) individual. Virtuous deeds performed under the direction of the spiritual mentor enable him to realize the true essence of the self.Evidently, a basic conflict inheres in man that between its outward inclinations and its inward retreat and immersion in its own self.

The former tendency is amorously passionate, furiously aggressive, covetously possessive, blindly infatuative, and proudly egoistic (characterized by the five base emotions, viz. lust, anger, greed, attachment and egotism). The feverishness of this pursuit causes the man to remain in continual turbulence and suffering in the karmic whirl of birth and death. The path of deliverance as revealed by the Guru is for the man to abandon its outward pursuits and immerse itself in blissful contemplation. “Quell the noise and experience beauty.”

The goal of all spiritual discipline is to attain this sublime quietude, controlling the mind`s distractions. This is the state of the emancipated individual, the gurmukhor the Jivanmukta, who freely moves between the realm of duty in the worldly life and realm of devotion to the spirit eternal. He is the one in tune with the Infinite. The ideal state of the mind (man) is that which leads to the dissolution of man, the death of man. But who would slay man? Man itself, says the Guru, Nanak, man hi kau manu marsi (GG,l089). And this is the greatest ever victory, equalling victory over the whole world: mani jitai jagu jitu (GG,6) conquering the man (mind) amounts to conquering the world.

References :

1. Sabaaarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Amritsar, 1964
2. Jodh Singh, Bhai, Gurmati Nimaya. Lahore, 1932
3. Talib, Gurbachan Singh, Japuji- The Immortal Sikh Prayer-chant. Delhi, 1977
4. Avtar Singh, Ethics of Sikhs. Patiala, 1970
5. Wazir Singh, Philosophy of Sikh Religion. Delhi, 1981
6. Nripinder Singh, The Sikh Moral Tradition. Delhi, 1990
7. Sher Singh, Philosophy of Sikhism. Lahore, 1944