Definition - What does Abhinivesha mean?

Abhinivesha is a Sanskrit word meaning “will to live,” referring to the fear of death, even if life is full of misery. It is one of the five kleshas, or negative mental states that causes suffering. Not only is abhinivesha the fear of death, it also includes the incorrect identification of the true self with the temporary physical body or world. This fear can prevent a yogi from achieving moksha, or nirvana.

Yogapedia explains Abhinivesha

As one of the kleshas, abhinivesha works to block enlightenment and liberation. In it’s specific definition, it means fear of death; however, many yogis also interpret it as general fear and anxiety that causes suffering. Patanjali's Yoga Sutras describe kleshas as impediments to spiritual growth. Yogic practices, such as meditation and pranayama breathing exercises, provide methods to overcome abhinivesha.

According to the Yoga Sutras, there are four stages to overcoming the influence of kleshas like abhinivesha:

  1. Udaram - the active stage
  2. Vicchinna - the separated stage
  3. Tanu - the attenuated stage
  4. Parsupta - the dormant stage

The process begins with mindfully observing one's own kleshas as they arise.

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