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The Five Kleshas: Sources of Suffering Part 2

The Five Kleshas: Sources of Suffering Part 2

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In our previous blog post, we discussed two types of afflictions in detail. In today’s blog, we will delve into the next three types of afflictions, namely: Raga (attraction/attachment), Dvesha (aversion), and Abhinivesha (fear of death).

Rāga (raaga)- attraction

सुखानुशयी रागः ॥७॥
2.7 sukhānuśayī rāgaḥ
सुख-अनुशयी रागः​ – sukha-anuśayī rāgaḥ

sukha- happiness; anuśayī- to follow, that follows the path of; rāgaḥ- attachment
The feeling that follows happiness is raaga (attachment).

The seventh sutra, “sukhānuśayī rāgaḥ,” explains that attachment, known as raaga, is the feeling that follows happiness. When our senses come into contact with objects, impressions of happy or sad memories are formed in our chitta, which are deep impressions that create feelings of attachment towards objects that are favourable to the mind. This attachment leads to a desire to repeatedly enjoy the object and may drive a person to make efforts, cheat, lie, or even deceive to acquire it. If the object is not obtained, the person may experience anger or fear, leading to suffering and difficulties for the Chitta. In this way, attachments that bring temporary happiness can actually cause more harm than good and are considered an affliction, or klesha. The deeper the attachment, the more difficulties it causes, trapping us in the cycle of life and death.
To illustrate this point, Saint Abhilash Saheb cites the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, stating that the eternal soul gets attached to inert objects, experiences sorrow, and becomes trapped. Therefore, getting attached to what we perceive as happiness is a dangerous affliction that hinders our journey towards real happiness and peace.

Dvesha (aversion)

दुःखानुशयी द्वेषः ॥८॥
2.8 duḥkhānuśayī dveṣaḥ
दुःख-अनुशयी द्वेषः​ – duḥkha-anuśayī dveṣaḥ

duḥkha- sadness; anuśayī- to follow, that follows the path of; dveṣaḥ- aversion
The feeling that follows sadness is dvesha (aversion).

Dvesha (aversion) is the feeling that arises when people try to distance themselves from unpleasant objects and associate themselves with pleasurable ones. This desire for like-mindedness is incessant, but not all situations can be controlled to conform to one’s wishes. When people encounter unpleasant situations, they feel hatred, anger, jealousy, violence, or a desire for revenge. These negative emotions are the result of the feeling of aversion that follows the path of sadness.
For instance, if someone disrespects or insults us, the emotion we experience towards that person is called aversion (dvesha). This feeling can gradually eat away at our peace of mind, causing mental and physical illnesses. A wise person, on the other hand, does not become attached to favourable objects nor does he get repelled by unfavourable ones. As a result, he remains in a state of constant bliss, which is the ultimate goal of life.

Abhinivesha (fear of death)

स्वरसवाही विदुषोऽपि तथारूढोऽभिनिवेशः ॥९॥
2.9 svarasavāhī viduṣo’pi tathārūḍho’bhiniveśaḥ
स्व-रस-वाही विदुषः-अपि तथा-आरूढः-अभिनिवेशः​ – sva-rasa-vāhī viduṣaḥ-api tathā-ārūḍhaḥ-abhiniveśaḥ
sva- self; rasa- feeling; vāhī- continuous flow; viduṣaḥ- scholar; api- too; tathā- and; ārūḍhaḥ- present; abhiniveśaḥ- buried deep inside, fear of death

Those sanskaras (deep impressions) that have been flowing since previous births, which are present in scholars as well, are known as abhinivesha (fear of death).

The deep impressions or samskaras that have been continuously flowing since past lives and are present even in scholars are known as abhinivesha or fear of death. Sva means self, rasa means feeling or experience, and vāhī means something that flows. Our nature or sanskaras are formed by this continuous flow of feelings or experiences. These sanskaras have been flowing through many births and will continue to do so until we weaken or eliminate them through spiritual practices and meditation.
Fear of death is a universal experience that exists in all living beings. Every living being has an instinct to preserve its own life. The fear of death is not based on personal experience since nobody has experienced death in their lifetime. The fear of death is the result of the deep impressions or sanskaras from previous lives. The fear of death is present in scholars as well as in ignorant people. Even those who have knowledge of scriptures but lack knowledge of the soul experience fear of death.
Abhinivesha or fear of death is buried deep inside all living beings. Life forms that do not have direct or scriptural knowledge of death still fear it. Insects and birds also fear death, and this fear is the result of their experiences and sanskaras from previous lives.

In summary, the five kleshas described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are avidya (ignorance), asmita (egoism), raga (attachment), dvesa (aversion), and abhinivesha (fear of death). These kleshas are obstacles to achieving inner peace and gaining knowledge. Avidya is the root cause of all other kleshas, and it is ignorance of our true nature. Asmita is attachment to our ego and the belief that we are separate from others. Raga is the desire for pleasure and attachment to pleasurable experiences. Dvesa is the aversion to pain and the desire to avoid unpleasant experiences. Finally, abhinivesha is the fear of death, which arises from deep-seated impressions or samskaras that flow from past lives. These kleshas can be overcome through the practice of yoga and meditation, which help us cultivate self-awareness and separate ourselves from these sufferings.


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