The soul is like the sun that illuminates every nook and corner of the world but a part of the earth that is closer to the sun will naturally get more sunlight than the other parts of the same. In the same way, the sukshma buddhi is closer to the soul than the sthula buddhi and so it gets a larger share of the light of the soul than the sthula buddhi and in that light, it can see the world better than the same.
However, this does not mean that the sthula buddhi is without its own importance. In his comments upon the verse under consideration in the earlier two blogs and the present one, one reason cited by Adi Shankaracharya for the intelligence is superior to the mind is that the intelligence is more pratyagamatmakam, related with the soul than the mind, which is perfectly right.
The sukshma buddhi is, of course, pratyagamatmakam but even the sthula buddhi can be like that if it chooses to. In his comments on the verse, Adi Shankaracharya says that the intelligence, by which he means the sthula buddhi, is “adhyavavasayadhya arambhakam“, the starting point of things like “adhyavasaya“. The word “adhyavasaya” has multiple meanings, out of which two meanings are applicable here. One is ‘a firm resolve’ and the other one is ‘energy’ and ‘ perseverance’.
If the first meaning is applied to the word, what Adi Shankaracharya has in his mind is that the sthula buddhi can get the mind firmly resolved for making spiritual advancement. As with the mind, there are two types of the sthula buddhi-doubting and resolving. The selfsame intelligence that is very doubting, in the beginning, may turn to resolve in the end.
The intelligence of Swami Vivekananda
As a child, Swami Vivekananda was very religious by nature but as a youth, he began to doubt the generosity-nay, even the very existence of the Divine for various reasons. After coming into close contact with a highly evolved spiritual seer like Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, the same doubting intelligence turned into the resolving one. The selfsame sthula buddhi that once led him away from the spiritual path led him to it. That is the importance of the sthula buddhi. If the second meaning is applied to the word, what Adi Shankaracharya has in his mind is that the sthula buddhi can get the mind persevering and energetic for spiritual pursuits. The selfsame sthula buddhi that initially lacks confidence may get the mind confident about doing spiritual works. The intelligence of Swami Vivekananda may again be a case in point.
Marathi novel ‘Paramhansa‘ by my father Mr. Nilkanth Nandurkar
Just some few days before the passing away, Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa bestowed his spiritual powers upon Swami Vivekananda and told him something to the effect,” You will have to do my work”.In his lack of confidence, Swami Vivekananda said, “but how can I do it?”. ” Even your bones will do that work”, Shri Ramakrishna replied angrily. Swami Vivekananda subsequently went about doing the divine work that was in store for him with energy, confidence, and perseverance.
So the sthula buddhi is certainly the starting point of “adhyavasaya“, as Adi Shankaracharya describes it, in both the senses of the term and that is the importance of the sthula buddhi. Similarly, Adi Shankaracharya is perfectly right when he says that intelligence, whether it is the sthula buddhi or the sukshma buddhi, is more pratyagamatmakam than the mind and this is where the intelligence scores over the mind.