Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Asmita Mean?

Asmita is a Sanskrit term, often translated as "egoism." According to Yoga philosophy, asmita is the second of the five kleshas, otherwise known as obstacles or veils which hide the true self.

Kleshas cause the afflicted mental states at the root of all suffering, and one of the goals of yoga is to lift these veils as a means of liberation.

Asmita refers specifically to the attachment to ego and its interpretation of reality, manifesting as the erroneous belief that the immediate experience of the self is the true self. This leads to a false identity, in which self-image is defined by the roles, positions and possessions one attains in life.

The principle of asmita suggests that suffering is created by the ego’s need for approval.


Yogapedia Explains Asmita

According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, there are five afflictions of the mind known as kleshas. These five kleshas are:

  • Avidya – delusion or ignorance which obscures the higher Self

  • Asmita – egoism, in which physical, emotional and mental aspects of the mind and body are mistaken for the true Self.

  • Raga – attachment, referring to the desire for material objects, relationships, status and power

  • Dvesha – aversion to unpleasant things, people and experiences

  • Abhinivesha – fear, or more specifically fear of death and ignorant clinging to life

Sanskrit for "poison," each of these kleshas is believed to cause suffering. Asmita can be defined as an attachment to a sense of "I am," often accompanied by the tendency to cling to old roles and definitions of the self.

Asmita causes suffering when one identifies with the parts of the self that change. For example, asmita can manifest as attachment to the body, which may then cause distress when natural physical changes take place. Similarly, asmita may present as an attachment to a job title or relationship role.

In order to break free from asmita, it is important to recognize the unchanging self deep within. Otherwise known as the "seer," this inner self is the true essence of being which remains stable no matter what the external circumstances.

Forging a connection with the inner self through practices such as restorative yoga, pratyahara and meditation can help to lift the veil of asmita. In understanding that identification with changing aspects of the self causes suffering, it becomes possible to find more acceptance.

Lifting the veil of asmita does not necessarily involve relinquishing certain identities, roles or possessions, but rather cultivating a sense of self-acceptance in which none of these attributes affect the core of one’s being.

During These Times of Stress and Uncertainty Your Doshas May Be Unbalanced.

To help you bring attention to your doshas and to identify what your predominant dosha is, we created the following quiz.

Try not to stress over every question, but simply answer based off your intuition. After all, you know yourself better than anyone else.


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