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Viparyaya is one of the five constructs of the mind (vrittis). Patanjali has defined it as ‘false knowledge which is not in keeping with reality or what is (yogasutra: I.8). When a rope is mistaken for a snake or a shell for silver, the mistake is called viparyaya. It arises from imperfect perception, faulty inference, or false beliefs. One special feature of the falsity or error is that it passes for true knowledge until correct knowledge arises. In Yoga, this error is divided into five varieties. They are the impurities of the mind (chitta-malas) or the afflictions of the mind (kleshas). They are avidya (basic ignorance), asmita (ego feeling), raga (likes), dvesha (dislikes), abhinivesha (fear of death). They are beginningless, however, not endless. Patanjali has mentioned that they can be ended by the practice of kriya yoga (Yogasutra II 1-2) and dhyana (II.11).

Error in the form of ignorance and afflictions is the root cause of misery. It is wholly ineffectual like friend seeds which lose their capacity to germinate. Removal of the impurities of the mind makes for true knowledge of the self (atmajnana). It frees the self from bondage.