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Alaya-vijnana, Buddhist Philosophy
Alaya-vijnana is the key concept of the Vijnanavada or Yogachara school of Mahayana Buddhism. This theory was developed by Asanga around 4th century.
 Mahayana BuddhismYogacara School maintains that no external reality exists, while retaining the fact that knowledge exists, Alaya vijnana assumes that knowledge itself is the object of consciousness. It therefore assumes a higher storage consciousness which is the final base of the clear individual. Alaya-vijnana means store consciousness and it is one of the central technical terms of the Yogacara School. Alaya-vijnana is greater than subject-object opposition. It is momentary and non-substantial. The Alaya-vijnana is a container of elementary units of past experiences.

Alaya-vijnana was an early concept of Buddhism that rejects belief in the soul and analyses human lives into five constituents: matter, sensations, perceptions, habits and thoughts. The theory of Karma is also accepted here. There has to be some other factor that serves as the vehicle of those potentialities in the absence of a soul. The contents of awareness, perceptions of an external world, memories and dreams are held to derive from a beginning less supply of residual traces of experience. It generates the illusion of a real, stable and individual subject confronting a world of objects. Alaya-vijnana consists of a series of thoughts and karmic seeds that accounts for the continuity of individual`s personality through death and the transition between lives and in spells of unconsciousness.

Alaya vijnana represents the deepest, finest and subtlest layer of the aggregate of consciousness. It contains all impressions of the past actions and all good and bad future potentialities. It is also believed that alaya vijnana is a Mahayana doctrine. It is this alaya vijnana that is considered by men as their "Soul`, `Self`, `Ego`. Nirvana is achieved by the revolution of alaya vijnana which is called asrayaparavrtti.

In Mahayana Buddhism, alaya-vijnana has acquired a larger and higher significance. It signifies the interior organ of consciousness into which, the aroma of the higher experiences during that lifetime is collected at the end of each incarnation. Alaya-vijnana accumulates all potential energy for the aggregate of the mental and physical manifestation of one`s existence, and supplies the substance to all existences.

(Last Updated on : 27/11/2010)
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