Pancha klesha

The path of enlightenment is a long one. One needs to have dedication, knowledge, and mental strength to walk this path. While walking this path also some things hinder the walker. Various sources define various causes of hindrance walking this path. According to concepts of the yoga sutras of Patanjali, there are five root causes of suffering, and they block the way to enlightenment and are known as Pancha klesha.

Pancha klesha is made from the combination of two words on which Pancha means five and klesha means obstacles or blockade. There is a total of five and each of them plays a role in causing suffering to humans. The Pancha klesha is Avidya, Asmita, Raga, Dvesha, and Abhinivesha. 

Let’s take a look at Pancha klesha in detail:


Avidya is a Sanskrit word and when translated it means ignorance, incorrect knowledge, and misunderstanding. It is the opposite of the word Vidya which means knowledge. Avidya, illiteracy is one of the greatest sources of suffering. This is true not just in the field of enlightenment but in each and every field. When one does not have the required knowledge, one lives in the dark.

A dark night without the aid of light is harsh and cruel. In the dark one does not know about the dangers they are in, nor is one aware of what situations and conditions they are in. Vidya or knowledge is the light in the dark that wards off the darkness and gives one the strength to walk through the dark path. 

Another part of Avidya is half-knowledge and false knowledge which is even more dangerous than no knowledge. It is said that half knowledge and false knowledge can do more damage than having no knowledge at all.

The sages in ancient times used to amass lots of knowledge so that they could walk through the path of enlightenment. They used to amass a wide range of knowledge from Vedic texts to spiritual ways to end their suffering.

Asmita (Egoism)

Asmita is the second of the Pancha klesha. It is a great hindrance to the path of satisfaction and is a great cause of suffering. Let’s take a look at what ego is. Ego is a person’s sense of self-esteem and self-importance. Every person thinks they are capable in some way, they have confidence and know they are worthy. A good amount of it results in confidence, which is one of the greatest requirements for a good living.

However, when that confidence becomes too much, an individual develops an ego where he/she will think they are the center of everything. It does not matter even if the individual has amassed huge knowledge, when ego develops within them all the knowledge, they have amassed will be reduced to nothing. The ego which is developed within them even will not allow them to access the knowledge they have amassed. 

A calm mind which is free from ego can only make the right decision at the right time. When ego develops, it gives birth to suffering and pain.

Raga (Craving)

Raga is the third of the Pancha klesha. It means lust, desire, and attachment to the material world, it is the craving and desire. This Pancha klesha is very dangerous as it implants the seeds of various suffering. Those people who have the knowledge and who are not egoistic also fall under the trap of this Pancha klesha. To get exactly on the point everyone who is not on the path of enlightenment or has not achieved enlightenment has some form of craving that they have for this material world.

Most people crave money, power, and other physical needs in their lives. Some who have gotten higher crave things like affection, love, and similar things but all of them are still attachments to the material world. One needs to let go of things to be completely happy and enlightened. 

What one needs to understand is that human desire and craving are unlimited. If one of the cravings they are going to have the next one immediately or after some time. So, one needs to understand the Raga Pancha klesha and avoid it to let go of the suffering.


It is the fourth of the Pancha klesha. It means aversion and hate. It is the negative emotion and hate towards those who do not share a similar vision and thoughts. Hate is believed to be the hot charcoal one holds in their hand, the longer they are going to hold the burning charcoal the more damage it is going to do to them. Some consider hate and aversion to being their strength and that is not the case as it makes the person hollow from the inside.

There are many things in this world that can give rise to aversion. It can arise when someone does something wrong to them, while it can also arise as a result of greed for other people. Sometimes it also may arise when someone does not share your kind of vision and thinking. Whatever may be the cause of the hate and aversion, it is not right, and it should be discarded from the mind and body as soon as possible.

Abhinivesha (clinging to life)

It is the final of the Pancha klesha. It means to cling to life and fear death. Death is the final truth of life, the thing which comes to this earth as a living being must die that is the rule of nature that cannot be broken by anybody. The one who has taken birth shall die and the only question is when and where there is nothing else. Everything in life is uncertain and the only certain thing in life is death. Abinivesha of the Pancha klesha is where one lives in the constant fear of death and clings to their life. 

It is one of the greatest causes of suffering. One thing people needs to understand is that death is inevitable, the one who once were here have gone and the ones that are here will also be gone, it cannot be changed so why to worry about it and life to the fullest when they can. While some live in the constant fear of not enjoying the moment they have now feared the death that will arrive in the future.