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Pancha Klesha in Hinduism – Five Psychic Afflictions


Pancha Klesha in Hinduism is the five psychic afflictions. They are ignorance, ego or cognition of self existence, attachment to the pleasurable, hatred of obstructers and fear of death. The concept is mentioned in Yoga Sutra II/3 shloka (avidyasmita – raga – dweshabhiniveshah)

Pancha Klesha

  • Avidya
  • Asmita
  • Raga
  • Dvesha
  • Abhinivesha

According to Yoga philosophy, the fivefold activities of mind, intellect and ego combined are of two types unafflicted (Akilsta) and motivated or originated by afflictions (kilsta). Pancha Klesha is klista or the five afflictions.

As per Yoga Sutra, Avidya believes illusion to be true and by which one is misled. When a person is afflicted by avidya, the person does not see what is real but delusively perceives the unreal to be real. Such a person thinks temporary to be permanent, impure to be pure and unholy to be holy. They are unaware about the source of pain and pleasure. True self is unknown to them.

Such people forget about the transience of the world. They chase evanescent pleasures which cause nothing but suffering. They think everything to be the impermanent body ignoring the true Self.

Mistaking consciousness for mind which only reflects consciousness is asmita.

Raga is seeking pleasure again and again of the same kind.

Anger and frustration to the obstructions of pleasure is dwesha.

Abhinivesha as per Yoga Sutra II 7/9 is fear of death which felt equally by the learned and the fool.

Pancha Klesha may occur in all creatures with a mind in all conditions. Avidya or ignorance is the root cause of Pancha Klesha.

Pancha Klesha may be due to past deeds. The deeds of the past and present life give pain in this life and future lives. (Yoga Sutra (II/12).

How To Overcome Pancha Klesha?

Pancha Klesha can be overcome by penance, study of original texts, repetition of mantra, complete surrender to God by seeing God in all animate and inanimate.

Dropping all forms of ignorance and merging with prakriti or supreme truth puts an end to Pancha Klesha.