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Avirati in Hinduism – Mind Drawn Towards Sense Objects

Avirati in Hinduism is a state of mind drawn towards the objects of sense. Avirati is a hindrance to the path of Yoga. Rati means affection, fondness or a deep interest in pleasure. It is the disposition of being given to the experience of worldly pleasure. Human beings have it as a natural tendency.

Virati is the opposite of it, i.e. indifference to worldly attachments. It is the cessation of attraction towards pleasure. It is a quality of the mind essential for Yoga.

But a student may often find that this quality is lacking in him, and his mind gets attracted to the objects of sense, and in spite of his best efforts it does not retire or turn away from them. That state of worldliness is called avirati. It makes the mind unsteady and uneasy, and the progress on the spiritual path is stopped.

Sage Patanjali has mentioned nine hindrances which distract the mind from the path of Yoga (Yogasutra I.300. They are:

  1. Ill health, 
  2. Sluggishness,
  3. Doubt, 
  4. Heedlessness, 
  5. Laziness, 
  6. Worldliness, 
  7. Erroneous perception, 
  8. Lack of attainment of a state of concentration
  9. Instability of concentration.

For removing these hindrances, a great effort on the part of the student is needed so that the mind can be removed from the external objects, and applied to the practice of concentration. Sage Patanjali has recommended several ways for attaining this (I.32-39), such as applying the mind to one single object, development of attitudes like friendliness, holding the breath, concentrating the mind on liberated selves, contemplation of dream experiences and so on. Thereby, the mind can be stopped from wavering and can be lead to concentrate on any object, gross or subtle, manifest or otherwise.