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Ashtapashas In Hinduism

The concept of Ashtapashas, also known as Astapashas, holds significance in the tantric tradition, particularly in texts advocating the worship of the Divine Mother. These texts provide a list of the Ashta Pashas, which are considered as the eight bonds or fetters that hinder one's spiritual progress. Each of these bonds represents a psychological or emotional obstacle that individuals may encounter on their spiritual journey.

The traditional list of Ashtapasas includes:

  1. Ghrina (Pity): This refers to the feeling of pity or compassion, which although virtuous in certain contexts, can also bind an individual to worldly attachments and distractions.
  2. Lajja (Bashfulness): Lajja signifies a sense of shame or bashfulness, which is considered necessary in social interactions. However, in the context of spiritual practices, excessive lajja can hinder one's openness and receptivity to divine experiences.
  3. Bhaya (Fear): Fear, in its various forms, can prevent individuals from taking bold steps towards spiritual growth. It can manifest as fear of the unknown, fear of failure, or fear of divine scrutiny.
  4. Shanka (Doubt): Doubt undermines faith and confidence in one's spiritual path. It creates hesitation and indecision, leading to wavering commitment and lack of progress.
  5. Jugupsa (Aversion): Aversion refers to feelings of dislike or repulsion towards certain experiences, people, or aspects of oneself. It binds individuals to negative emotions and prevents them from embracing the entirety of existence.
  6. Kula (Family): Attachment to one's family or lineage can create a sense of identity rooted in worldly relationships, thereby limiting one's spiritual aspirations.
  7. Shila (Conduct, Uprightness): While ethical conduct is essential, excessive attachment to rules and norms can become a hindrance if it restricts one's spiritual exploration and evolution.
  8. Jati (Birth or Caste): Identification with one's birth status or caste can reinforce social hierarchies and divisions, hindering the realization of the universal nature of existence and the interconnectedness of all beings.

It's important to note that while some of these qualities may be considered virtues in certain contexts, they can become obstacles on the path to spiritual enlightenment if they are not transcended or transformed.

Additionally, variations of the Ashtapasas list may include other psychological or emotional bonds such as mana (honour), trisa (desire), kama (lust), and lobha (greed), reflecting the diverse range of human experiences and challenges encountered in the pursuit of spiritual realization.