panchaklesha (Sanskrit: “five hindrances”) — to spiritual growth: avidya (ignorance), asmita (egoism), abhinivesha (clinging to life), raga (cravings), dwesha (aversions); also considered the “five roots” of all problems of human existence; the motivating factors which drive humans to act in such ways as to produce and perpetuate Karma.

The five kinds of afflictions

  1. avidya — the most fundamental affliction of the above is avidya (ignorance). This ignorance is in the sense of identifying with the Self. Divinity is equally present in every thing and every being. The ignorance of ones own divinity is “avidya”.
  2. asmita — or egoism is the identification of one self with the instrument of perception and their functions and experiences. It’s the false identification with our body-mind complex that is non-eternal and subject to constant change. Unless and until we are under the influence of our ego the higher truth will not be accessible.
  3. raga — is attachment or hankering of experiences that one has found pleasurable in the past.
  4. dvesha — is the aversion in the attitude towards unpleasant experiences. Such urges of aversion are created by recollection of the suffering experienced before.
  5. abhinivesha — means clinging to mundane life. This is a fundamental and a very natural tendency of self-preservation that exists among all living beings. To counter the danger on ones life over the years we animals have developed our own unique self defense mechanisms. In our ordinary experiences we find that if we do anything repeatedly time after time it becomes automatic or in other words becomes instinctive. Therefore we can argue that what we accept now as instinctive tendencies like will to live or saving our lives etc have become so through repeated experiences in the past and have been acquired over a period of time. Therefore it can be said that these experiences of life and death in the countless embodiments of the past presents themselves now as instinctive tendencies.


Panchaklesha – Afflictions,


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